Calculating food cost for pizza restaurant

The industry standard is that profitable pizza restaurant should have around 30% food cost. That means if you sell pizza for $9, then the ingredients you put in should not cost more than $3.

I really like the Dodo Pizza Story blog where they wrote an article about their food cost. They also created whole Google Sheet table showing their actual food cost and pizza recipes. I love how they are willing to share this useful information.


Conveyor vs. wood fired oven for pizza restaurant

This is my oven in my backyard.

Beautiful Forno Bravo wood fired oven. I chop the wood. I make the fire. I wait for the oven to heat up. This takes me about 1.5 to 2 hours! Then I make pizza. Put it in the oven. Sixty seconds later it is done. And I feel that this is really crazy.

Wood fired ovens are complicated. You don’t pay attention for few seconds and pizza can burn. The temperature is not even. Some parts of the oven are hotter. Some are colder. The differences are pretty big. You really have to be very experienced.

I am not going to use wood fired pizza in my commercial restaurant. I want to be sure that my employees are able to learn how to make pizza very quickly. I don’t want to rely on highly paid and experienced labor. I want to have processes in place which assure that making pizza is very fast!

Does the pizza taste better from wood fired oven? Yes, it could, but I don’t think this is such a big deal. I think that good ingredients are much more important. So I am definitively going with conveyor oven for my restaurant.

Finding location for a pizza restaurant

There are many intelligent ways how to find a perfect location for a restaurant. But I have only two main criteria:
1. Location
2. Budget

Location means that I want the pizza place to be close to my house. I hate spending too much time in traffic. I always liked to have office close to my house. So I was looking somewhere close-by for a location. And there are not many options available.

Especially if we take budget into consideration. I have no experience in restaurant business. There are nice locations close to the beaches, but they are expensive. I could be paying $6,000 to $10,000 per month. And that is a huge risk.

So I was very happy to find the location on Hawthorne Blvd , which is a great location and with perfectly reasonable budget.


It is a small strip mall. Small stores. Each around 1,000 sq. feet. I think that is perfect size for pizza restaurant. Our unit is in the middle.

The monthly cost is $3,200! I think that is fantastic. All in price including NNN charges.

There are few drawbacks. Few doors down there is Domino’s Pizza. Not sure if it bad or good. Our pizza will be different. Thin dough & organic ingredients from small farmers and producers. So it will be not exactly like Domino’s pizza.

Hopefully Domino’s will be the ones going out of business once we start and not the opposite way:-))

Dodo pizza wrote great article about how they were looking for their location and also created nice spreadsheet showing the different criteria how to choose the best location.

I like how they are willing to share this useful information. And how disciplined approach they have.  I am too lazy to work with spreadsheet (even that I know it is a smart way how to do it).


Choosing the name for my pizzeria

Some people will obsess about picking the right name for their business. Yes, the name is very important. But it is also hard to pick the right name.

I realize that if the business will be successful or fail doesn’t depend much on the choosing the name. So I don’t want to spend too much energy and time on it.

There are much more important tasks. Finding the good ingredients (I want everything organic and from small farmers). I want to be sure that prices are set right so we have actual customers. I want to make sure that we buy the right equipment and figure out how to do everything efficiently.

But back to the pizzeria name. I already have location and it is on foothills of Palos Verdes. So the name is PV Pizza. Short for Palos Verdes Pizza. The name is not very creative, but that’s fine. I really believe the success will be decided by other things than the company name.

Starting my first restaurant

I have decided to start a pizza restaurant. I have zero experience in food business. Except that I like to eat. Who doesn’t right.

Restaurant business is one of the hardest. Most of them bankrupt within few years. But they can be also very successful businesses. So I am hoping to be the later case.

Feel free to comment or learn from my experiences I will be describing here.