Beyond the Cheese: Ingredients for a Well-Stocked Pizzeria

Starting a pizzeria from scratch requires more ingredients than you might think. Beyond the building, furniture, ovens and yummy toppings, there’s an extensive list of supplies and equipment necessary to keep your customers well fed and eager to line up for seconds.

Russ Fritz, owner of the Hungry Howie’s Pizza franchise in Mentor, OH, is disciplined about maintaining an accurate inventory of items to minimize the likelihood of running out of anything at crunch time. Despite his many years of experience in the pizza business, however, he’s learned that customer patterns can’t always be predicted.

“I expect the unexpected,” he says. “Something can happen that’s beyond your control, like a school calling and ordering 50 pizzas or several customers in a row ordering pizza with double pineapple toppings.”

All the Basics

A well-stocked kitchen is key to ensuring your pizza-making operation runs smoothly and efficiently. Fritz recommends the following supplies:

  • A variety of pans that coordinate with the sizes of pizzas you offer
  • Cutters and spatulas for slicing and removing a pizza from the pan
  • A table-mounted can opener for opening sauce and other ingredients
  • Scales for weighing cheese and other toppings to ensure consistency
  • A pizza docker for inserting holes into the raw dough to facilitate even cooking
  • Cheese/sauce rings that allow you to quickly spread sauce and cheese on the center portion of the raw dough
  • Oven mitts to protect hands
  • Plastic gloves to use while preparing food

Basic supplies required for serving customers include:

If carryout and/or delivery will make up a significant portion of your business, the following items should also top your shopping list:

  • Pizza boxes and containers for salads, wings and other menu items
  • Plastic pizza savers, placed in the center of the pizza to prevent the top of the box from sagging into the pie
  • Cardboard inserts, placed underneath a pizza to protect the box from moisture that leaks from many vegetable toppings
  • Pizza delivery bags to keep food hot
  • Paper bags to accommodate non-pizza items
  • Individual packets of Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, salad dressing, croutons and other condiments
  • Plastic forks and knives

Fritz also suggests using inventory labels so you can make sure you’re using fresh ingredients.

“We date the boxes as our shipments come in, and when we open each individual box, we date it again,” he says. “We follow charts that indicate how long each product type lasts, depending on whether it’s open or closed, frozen or fresh.”

Keeping It Simple

When Mark Baruffi decided to transform an abandoned retail building in downtown Cedar City, UT, into Centro Woodfired Pizzeria in 2011, he knew he’d need to use the tight space efficiently. Understated décor and a simple menu met that goal while contributing to the restaurant’s industrial, chic style.

All of the artisan-style pizzas are only available in a 12-inch size, which simplifies the number of pans and dishes required to prepare and serve the food.

“We have only two plate sizes in the whole restaurant: 12-inch plates for salads and 7.5-inch plates for pizza and sides,” he says. “Because it’s a small space, we wanted minimal plateware, flatware and glassware.”

Efficiency extends throughout the dining room, where the centerpiece of each table is an empty No. 10 can of tomatoes used in the preparation of the pizza sauce. “It maximizes the table space and elevates the pizza when it comes out,” Baruffi says.

Each table also includes a matching black wood pepper grinder and salt shaker, a stainless steel cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a shaker bottle of red pepper flakes.

To facilitate to-go orders, which represent about 10 to 12 percent of his business, Baruffi stocks standard pizza boxes, 2 oz. plastic portion cups and plastic forks.

The Secret Ingredient

Belinda Lee, general manager of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta in Rock Hill, MO, believes the most important piece of equipment at a pizzeria is an experienced and knowledgeable owner. Before someone decides to open a new eatery, she suggests working at one first.

“If you have a romantic dream about what it’s like to run a pizza restaurant, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into in terms of the pace and the long hours,” she says. “You’ve got to have both a love of the business and a love of the food.”

Mike Plotnick is a writer, publicist and social media convert who helps businesses elevate their stories. Based in St. Louis, Mike has overseen PR and communications programs for a diverse range of organizations. He enjoys fitness, chocolate and the St. Louis Cardinals. Connect with Mike on Google+.

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