When we introduced the Long Pan to our extensive line of pizza pans, we were excited to get the party started. After all, who doesn’t enjoy pizza parties, gatherings with friends and enjoying a pizza from end-to-end of the table? The word about our pans got out, and Jeff Shapiro, director of growth and development for BBQ Holdings was intrigued. He recently started testing our Long Pans in three of his Granite City Brewery markets, and we spoke to him about the road to pizza victory.
Our brand, BBQ Holdings, encompasses Famous Dave’s, Granite City, Tahoe Joes, Village Inn and Clark Crew BBQ just to name a few, so it’s a large portfolio. I’ve been an enthusiast for pizza forever, and when the big boom started during COVID, I started playing around with Detroit pizzas, perfecting recipes, dough, the look of the caramelized cheese on the crust and all of the elements and details that really makes a great Detroit pizza. When doing the research on it, LloydPans is the only game in town. If you’re going to do it right with the right ingredients, LloydPans has to be a part of it.
When I reached out to LloydPans, which really was just a cold call, my contact said, ‘I know all about you.’ They sent out a box of samples and said, ‘Pick your flavor.’ We chose some long pans, larger pans, and it was up to us to decide what format we wanted to execute for the customers — there were so many choices. They sent us every pan. They really were awesome to work with! When it came time to choose the pan and we ordered them, they were made to order for us. They weren’t just a standardized pan they have on the shelf. Ultimately I wanted to go with something that gave us that wrap-around crust on all angles, and a perfect square is a little bit different than the long pan we’re using. We’re getting three sides, which is really cool. Square pan is a little different cut.
There’s 18 Granite City restaurants in our chain, and we wanted to do it in test markets: Roseville, Minn.; Franklin, Tenn.; and Schaumburg, Ill. We chose three different regions in the country to get a flavor and see how the test would go. Then we plan on rolling the pans out to 15 other locations, and I’ve got bigger plans for them as far as possible ghost kitchens.
No. 1: They deliver consistency in and out. If you take care of them, they’ll last forever. In our case, we’re buttering them and getting a nice, consistent product every single time. They also stack really nicely, and in our environment it works really well to parbake, and then we’re finishing. The style we’re doing for the quick service, we’re serving other foods as well. We were worried about the length of cooking time, and we have conveyor-style ovens, so the recipes finish in the ovens after the parbake.
Right now we’re selling about 30 pizzas in each store daily! Not bad for a featured item; the response has been amazing. The first goal is that once we’ve got the consistency throughout the three test stores, we’ll roll them out to the other units. I’d like to see them in a ghost kitchen in an environment inside our portfolio. And, I would like to see a lot more breakfast pizza being made.
We get a beautiful caramelized edge, characteristics we’re looking for in pizza time in and time out. It’s a package deal with cheese, dough — even the smoke — and everything. You need it all to come together at the end of the day. Equipment is such a huge part of what you do. And, I feel like we’ve got a great partner in LloydPans.