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KEY IDEA: Overcoming Oven Capacity

At their cozy Philadelphia storefront pizzeria Pizzetta, co-owners Davide Lubrano and Vinny Gallagher specialize in sourdough pizzas made with traditional starters and lengthy rise times. Their crust’s signature flavor and especially light, airy texture has made Pizzetta increasingly popular with locals. Growth has been a mixed blessing as rising customer demand increasingly bumps up against their current oven capacity.

The partners are particularly sensitive to not allowing peak oven capacity to sacrifice “bake quality.” That is, trying to push too many pies through a busy oven prevents the deck from properly reheating, risking disappointing customers with soft “underbaked” pies. They also don’t want excessive wait times to disappoint their best regulars.

They plan to eventually tear out a fryer to add more deck ovens. But until then, they have come up with some unique steps to solve the capacity challenge.

KEY IDEA – First, they determined an upper limit to orders they can properly bake per hour to still allow proper deck heating. When they start approaching this limit, they adjust their online order-taking software to reduce the number of online orders it will accept per hour. As a result, online consumers find that they can only access a limited number of oven “time slots” staggered through the evening. Metering online demand allows David and Vinny to keep things timely for both in-person guests and phone orders.

KEY IDEA – To alert the team to demand levels, they marked the bar where they queue side-by-side make tickets with strips of white masking tape to indicate when the line of tickets hits 30, 45, and 60 minute wait times. Whenever the ticket queue reaches a higher marker, the staff calls it out (“45 minutes”) to focus everyone on not missing a beat.

KEY IDEA – To keep their oven baking at peak efficiency, they store key ingredient stocks close at hand to avoid having to leave the prep area during the dinner rush. Davide and Vinny have also physically reconfigured their prep area, including moving equipment and rewiring several times to further minimize travel distance between make tables, the oven, and where finished pies are cut and plated or boxed.

Even after the new ovens arrive, streamlining and simplifying their kitchen configuration will continue to pay off as the restaurant grows even busier!

Davide Lubrano and Vinny Gallagher, Co-Owners
Pizatta Pizzeria
Philadelphia, PA