a traditional wood-fired oven. It’s also gas-fired, because
using wood changes the complexity—for example, you’ll
have different requirements for the fire code, while, with
a gas-fired model, we can simply direct-vent the oven,
with no hood.
That’s been a key to fast growth: not needing someone
that’s very technically trained on running the oven. You
put in the pizza, it goes around the fire twice, and you
pull it out, making sure it’s cooked correctly. Heavily
topped pies might take a little longer, but we set it up to
be pretty automatic.
The oven runs at 800°, and the pizza takes about 130
seconds to cook. We can make more than 200 pizzas per
hour. We’ve never hit a point where we couldn’t get pizzas
in within a minute or two. We leave the ovens running
at a low temperature overnight and fire them up in the
morning; it takes about 45 minutes to reach the desired
temp, and it remains there all day.
Lunch is very important, about 40% of our business,
but pizzas are a popular dinner item, too. People have
only 30 or 60 minutes for lunch, so they don’t have time
to waste. We get them in and out in eight minutes, no
matter where they are in line. Someone presses the dough
out, someone sauces, someone cheeses, someone tops, and
we put it in the oven, so we’re pretty efficient, especially
I went to Italy eight times to compete with the U.S.
Pizza Team and learned a lot there, and I can tell you our
Neapolitan pizza cooks perfectly in that high temperature. But to work this fast, you need a thinner crust. (We
also do a gluten-free version.) And we cook our sausage,
chicken and meatballs, plus other toppings, in the oven—
you can do anything with it!
DREW FRENCH, FOUNDER, YOUR PIE
FRANCHISING, ATHENS, GA ( 36 LOCATIONS)
We started in 2008, but fast-baking brick ovens have been
around for thousands of years. We started using them in
a high-end fast-casual setting to create a more accessible
pizza experience. Over time, people adopted other oven
styles, like conveyors, to make pizza in this setting. Those
innovations have helped the rise of fast-casual pizza.
“I think customers have
latched onto the flexibility
of fast-casual—the fact that a
group of four could come in
and each person gets exactly
what he wanted.”
—DREW FRENCH, YOUR PIE
Brick ovens fueled by natural gas can
cook 25 pizzas at a time while adding
to the ambience at Your Pie.