Pizza is a perennial favorite of the grab-n-go crowd, but biting into a soggy or tough crust could leave a bad taste about your c-store in their mouths. Given that NACS reports that 60% of customers consume c-store food (including pizza), driving sales of over $40 billion annually, it’s important that you provide pies that consistently meet their taste and quality expectations.
Doing so isn’t a matter of chance. The crust you choose is the first and most important decision in ensuring your convenience store pizza performs well.
Which crust is the “right” crust?
Unlike pizza restaurants that generally provide a wide range of pie preparations, c-stores and the “fast and portable” nature of their foods make them best suited to take ‘n’ bake, frozen, or ready to eat pizza. However, a narrower focus on preparation styles doesn’t necessarily mean a limited number of commercial pizza crust types. All three of these pie varieties align with a number of customer pleasing crusts:
Partially baked prior to topping, par-baked crusts offer “baked bread” properties that make them good fits for c-stores due to long hold times in refrigeration and up to one week on the shelf as a finished pizza. Adaptable and consistent, these crusts — whether used for thick or thin profiles — require no proofing and final baking times are short. Styles can vary from a bready thick crust to a thin and crispy style.
Rising (or self-rising)
Bready and flavorful with a rich bite, these no-knead, no-proof crusts rise as they bake. Rising crusts offer excellent performance under warming lights for extended periods of time, and can be frozen without having to be thawed and proofed before a final oven bake. Depending on how the pizza is ultimately baked and presented to the consumer, the differences between rising and par-baked crusts can be subtle, but they do have an impact on crust characteristics and performance.
Authentic wood-fired crusts from Alive & Kickin’ Pizza Crust allow c-stores and other venues the ability to upscale their offerings with naturally bubbly, textured artisanal flair. Pizza preparation is quick as these crusts are easily handled at frozen, refrigerated or ambient temperatures, and have a very long shelf life when kept frozen. Baking them is just as easy with the ability to finish baking in any oven — not just a wood-fired one.
For extra customer appeal, you might consider using dough balls for your pizza program. There is more preparation involved in using a dough ball versus the pre-made crust options above, but they offer a distinct, fresh, premium quality flavor to your store’s pizza.
Benefits to the bottom line
Affordability is also a key consideration for operators when deciding on a c-store pizza program, and these options are a relatively low-cost investment. Training and preparation time is kept to a minimum along with the amount of required equipment and supplies. Couple that with built-in profitability of by-the-slice or whole pie selling opportunities, and you’ll be as satisfied as the customers you serve.
If you’re wondering how to improve or set up a pizza program for your chain of c-stores, reach out to us! We love helping operators choose the best crust foundation for their situation and can get you connected with a distributor as well.
In the meantime, for expert insights and advice to help you get up to speed on the primary crust types, performance characteristics and applications, download our Pizza Crust Types Comparison Guide. Click the button below to get your free copy!