If Ian’s was an acronym, we would say that the “I” stands for innovation. It’s true that we’re constantly exploring new ingredients, technology, and business practices. While some of the things we explore aren’t the best fit, some of them make perfect sense (and we can’t believe we didn’t think of them sooner, but that’s life, right?). While you’ll see the results of our experiments with food (sometimes…) you might not hear about our forays into technology. Sure, technology in the pizza industry is a little different than other industries, but what’s not different is that we’re looking for the same thing: efficiency and effectiveness.
Enter the Roto-Flex Oven
In early 2015 we started hearing about this new pizza oven that was really gaining some buzz. Higher yield? More consistent pizza? Save space? Less labor? Yes, yes, and yes! Called the Roto-Flex oven (because it’s constantly rotating, which helps evenly cook pizza) we wondered if the reality could live up to the hype.
Then last year our friends at Ian’s Pizza Milwaukee scheduled a remodel to make their cook station more efficient. They took the initial leap and decided to make the investment in a Roto-Flex (which is not the cheapest option…). A few months passed and we were only hearing positive things, so we decided to send a couple of our cooks over to Milwaukee to work a busy weekend shift. Who better to give feedback than the folks that would have to use them every day? Well, their response was overwhelmingly positive and that was the deciding factor for us.
We scheduled our Roto-Flex installation for January 2016, so the new oven has been in our State Street location a little over three months–and we haven’t regretted the decision a bit. Not only are we cranking out pizza more efficiently than ever, we were able to rearrange the entire kitchen area to make it much more comfortable for our cooks. The space we saved allowed us to put in new shelving, so all of our ingredients are within easy reach and not at knee height in small refrigerators. Since it’s a big square with doors on two sides, we can have separate areas for stretching pizza and adding the finishing toppings after the pizza comes out. This might not sound all that exciting to you, but believe us — it’s awesome! And being able to see through the lighted glass doors to check on doneness without having to open doors and peer inside a cavernous, dark oven? Spectacular!
All these things are great for us but what is also fantastic is that the Roto-Flex is much more energy efficient because of its design and insulation. Even when you do open the doors to grab a pizza, there’s an air curtain that help keeps the 500* heat in the oven and not out in the kitchen. This helps reduce our energy bill, which keeps the bookkeeper happy, and will also help keep our restaurant cooler in the summer, which will make everyone happy.
So next time you’re standing in line with a friend, family member, or co-worker feel free to share this information – you’ll sound very knowledgeable and maybe you’ll impress that person you’re with and they’ll pick-up your slice . Now if we could only figure out how to spin like that and not get dizzy!