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Northern Pizza Equipment

  • Cold Wall vs. Forced Air Prep Tables

    The goal of any prep table is to keep ingredients as fresh as possible, which is important for food safety as well as reducing waste and cost in your restaurant.

    There are two forms of refrigeration available in the market: cold wall and forced air. Knowing the difference and having the right prep table in your pizza restaurant is one sure way to help you keep your cool.

    To understand the benefits of each type of prep table, let’s first discuss the process of refrigeration. Any type of refrigeration works by removing heat, not by applying cold. This is an important detail to know when talking about the mechanics of restaurant equipment like prep tables.

    Cold wall prep tables utilize direct conduction to the product to remove heat. The pans sit in a refrigerated rail and, because of this, are able to maintain more consistent cold temperatures, despite being in the hot environment of a pizza kitchen.

    A forced air prep table works by blowing cold air over the pans instead of transferring heat through direct conduction like its cold wall counterpart. The result is the same—a cooled product—but the mechanics of the fan setup is such that the temperature isn’t as consistent as it is in a cold wall unit.

    Fan cooling also has disadvantages when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. The fan is moving kitchen air containing dust, dirt, and gases over refrigeration coils. Not only are the coils themselves hard to clean, but the harsh environment created by the fan means that the coils corrode and break down over time. The fan itself is also bearing the burden of working in this dirty environment, which means extra maintenance there, too.

    Cold wall prep tables are mechanically simpler than forced air models because they have no moving parts, making them more reliable and less likely to need repair. This type of unit is also easier to maintain day-to-day, as they are easy to clean. Many models, like Randell prep tables, also come equipped with a drain, making daily cleanup a cinch.

    However, there is a trade-off. The main advantage of a forced air prep table is that they are less expensive to manufacture and are generally priced lower than cold wall units upfront.

    Make sure to discuss all your options with a professional before making the final decision for your restaurant.

  • Mixing It Up: Choosing Your Pizza Dough Mixer

    In the pizza industry, one of the most beloved pieces of equipment is the mixer. The most common type is a planetary mixer, but there are other choices available.

    Vertical cutter mixers—VCM for short—are less well-known but come with some advantages you will want to consider when setting up your pizza restaurant.

    In the simplest terms, a VCM is like an 11-horsepower food processor, offering versatility unmatched by a traditional mixer. By utilizing different blades, the same unit can be used for mixing dough, grating cheese, and slicing vegetables.

    Maintenance on a vertical cutter mixer is minimal since the motor involves essentially only one moving part. Operation is easy too, employing a tilting head which makes it easy to get heavy dough and other food supplies out of the unit.

    The capacity of a vertical cutter mixer is smaller than a planetary mixer—40 quarts versus an average 60 quarts—but what the VCM lacks in size it easily makes up in speed. Pizza dough, which typically takes 7 to 9 minutes in a planetary mixer, can be done in 90 seconds in a VCM.

    Considering all the above, many independent pizza restaurants appreciate the value offered by a VCM. Consulting with a restaurant equipment expert will help guide your final decision.

  • Gas vs. Electric Ovens in Your Pizza Restaurant

    Looking to settle a hot debate regarding your restaurant’s oven? When it comes to gas vs. electric ovens, there are several factors to consider.

    First and foremost is the operating cost of your oven. Gas ovens are less expensive to operate in the long term, but they do come with more upfront expense. Because gas ovens operate with open flames, they need more complex ventilation and fire suppression systems than their electric counterparts. Conversely, electric ovens work with infrared heat instead of fire, making their safety standards less complex and more affordable.

    Second, gas ovens account for 90% of all units in the pizza industry. Because of their immense popularity, the most current technology available is built for gas ovens only.

    Aside from these two major factors, ovens also come down to personal preference and what you need to accomplish with your menu items. Gas ovens cook by air impingement (forced air), a harsh environment which generally results in less moisture and more crispness. This can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on your pizza recipe.

    On the other hand, electric ovens do a better job at cooking proteins, an important factor to consider if pizza isn’t the only thing on your menu—think chicken wings, ribs, and more.

    As always, an expert can consult with you to help you make the right choice for your store.

  • Do You Know the Voltage Of Your Restaurant?


    Do you know the voltage of your store? You may think you do, but do you really?

    If you are a restaurant owner, one of the best pieces of advice we can offer is the following: Have an electrician assess your store and write your voltage down right on the electric panel. Or, if your restaurant is still in the construction phase, have your electrical contractor do the same thing while working on the project.

    Generally, your restaurant will be somewhere between 200-240 volts and either be single- or three-phase power. Knowing your voltage is one of the most important pieces of information you can have about your business, and one of the easiest to misplace or misrepresent as time goes on. Writing this information on the panel will allow you to effortlessly retrieve this information when you need it, like when you wish to purchase a new piece of restaurant equipment.

    Too often, we have a customer call for a new appliance that does not know their voltage. They look at their current equipment and tell us what the equipment says, but that may not necessarily match up to their actual power.

    For example, they might have forgotten by then that they brought that machine over from another location where the voltage was different. Because the voltage works in their location, they automatically assume it’s what they need. But, that is not necessarily true.

    Think about it this way: Voltage to your appliance is like an engine to a car. If you put the engine of a small car into a large truck, it will turn on. It will move the truck. But it won't have the same ability to move the truck as an engine made specifically for the larger truck because the power balance is off.

    Restaurant equipment of different voltages than your store will likely fire up and work, they are not meeting their fullest potential. Like the car and truck scenario, the power balance is off.

    Knowing this information will help you purchase the right piece of equipment for maximum efficiency and power. It may cost you the price of an electrician visit… but having it on the panel for easy reference is priceless.


  • When to Replace Your Pizza Prep Table - Northern Pizza Equipment

    When to Replace Your Pizza Prep Table

    As anyone in the industry knows, pizza prep tables are an investment. Like an automobile, the goal is to keep them running as long as possible by taking good care of them and performing routine maintenance. Small repairs are bound to pop up throughout the life of your prep table, like replacing door gaskets, hardware, and fan motors. But how do you know if it is time for a replacement?

    Repair vs. Replacement

    To gain a better understanding, let’s put things in terms of an automobile again. If you’re driving an older model and your mechanic tells you that you need a new engine, or that you need to replace your transmission, you’re probably better off purchasing a new car instead of undertaking such a major repair.
    In the context of your pizza prep table, those major repairs include requiring a new compressor, needing a new evaporator, or having to replace the coils. At this point, investing in a new table is often a better option.

    Business Growth

    It’s also possible that your pizza restaurant can outgrow your current prep table. Like other production equipment within your restaurant, your prep table should be proportionate to the amount of business you do, and an expanding business will result in the need for more capacity.
    Adding another prep table into operation is certainly a viable option. However, if your business is growing and you have an older prep table, you should consider a replacement instead. In addition to increasing productivity for your pizzeria with a larger model, you will be forestalling the problems that inevitably come as equipment begins to age.

    Advancing Technology

    One final thing to consider when contemplating a replacement is the ability of your old equipment to meet evolving industry standards. Over our 25 years in business, we’ve seen countless updates to health codes, especially in terms of refrigeration. Food safety laws regarding proper temperatures keep getting stricter… does your pizza prep table have the ability to keep up? If you’re in doubt, it’s time to shop for a newer model. As always, contact us for guidance. We’re happy to help.

  • Tips for Keeping Your Commercial Mixer Running

    If you own a pizza shop, you know that your mixer is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your kitchen. Production and sales are directly affected by how well your mixer is functioning.  Keeping your mixer running is vital to having a successful pizza shop. Here are some tips on how to keep it running:

    Clean the mixer regularly. Keeping the equipment and accessories clean can help avoid damage to your mixer. You must clean it properly so that water doesn’t damage the electric parts of the mixer. To clean the electric parts, use a wet, soapy wash cloth rather than submerging the mixer in water and dry it immediately. Make sure it’s unplugged and fully dry before plugging it back in.

    Change the lubricants. Lubricants help displace the heat that is built up during mixing and will preserve the parts that touch each other. The bowl clamps should be lubricated twice a year. The bowl lift and sliderails should be deep cleaned and lubricated monthly due to the ingredients frequently being splashed on them.

    Replace the seals. Seals may leak and need to be completely replaced or may simply need to have their grease replaced. The most common areas to notice leaking that isn’t a grease replacement problem are in the planetary assembly and auxiliary attachment hub. You can do it yourself or have a trained tech come out to do it. It is recommended to replace grease with a synthetic food grease.

    Adjust the Agitator Height. If you are noticing the agitator missing ingredients or scraping the bowl too often, it may be out of alignment. If it’s constantly scraping the bowl or causing you to have to remix the ingredients yourself, simply adjusting the height is a quick fix. Just pour a small amount of flower into the mixing bowl and adjust the height until it makes the lowest indentation. Leaving the agitator at the wrong height can damage the equipment, so be sure to pay close attention.

    Choose the right mixer. Having the right mixer for your needs can keep it running longer. If you are doing a large amount of mixing like most pizzerias, make sure your mixer can handle it.   You wouldn’t want to get a smaller mixer that is used often at bakeries. Constant use of the mixer can eventually cause wear and tear, so having one with the capabilities to keep up with your needs is important.

    Now that you know how to keep your mixer running, you can choose the right one for your pizza shop. Contact Northern Pizza Equipment to help find the right mixer for your needs.

  • Shelf Lives of Popular Pizza Ingredients

    Knowing all of the ingredients’ shelf lives is important in making sure your pizza is fresh, tasty and safe.  It’s also an important tool in managing your pizzeria’s inventory and deciding when to re-order supplies. Northern Pizza Equipment has everything you need to keep the ingredients fresh and ready to use.

    The shelf life for pizza ingredients will fluctuate and is dependent on many variables, such as temperature of refrigeration.  That being said, here are some basic industry guidelines:


    Refrigerated dough will last up to two days. You can extend that shelf life for up to three months by freezing the dough.

    Pizza sauce:

    If you are keeping the homemade pizza sauce in the fridge, it can last for up to two weeks. If the pizza sauce is kept in the freezer and is made with good tomatoes, it can last up to six weeks.


    In the fridge, the cheese will last up to six weeks. In the freezer, it will last up to eight months.

    Meat Toppings:

    Raw meat toppings, such as sausage, bacon, or pepperoni, will last up to two days in the fridge, and up to a year in the freezer. Precooked meat toppings can last up to four days in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.

    Vegetable Toppings:

    In a refrigerator, vegetables, such as onions or peppers, will last up to a week. In a freezer, vegetables will last up to one month.

    Once you know the shelf life for your ingredients, you can more effectively manage your inventory. Contact Northern Pizza Equipment to order cold storage and other vital pieces of equipment today.

  • Is Gas Line Configuration Affecting Your Pizza Oven?

    When setting up your pizza business, it’s important to make sure your equipment is up to the task at hand.  Equally important is supplying your equipment with the proper configurations.  One of the most essential, but often unconsidered, aspects of restaurant setup is your gas plumbing.

    When the weather turns colder, our staff often receives “repair” calls for pizza ovens that have suddenly begun to under-bake. The cause of the issue isn’t usually the oven; it’s the furnace that is using the same gas line.  Most pizzerias don't consider that the available gas supply to their kitchen equipment is also affected by their furnace, so when their oven starts under-cooking the pizza, they don't understand why.

    The failure stems from a loss of pressure at the equipment.  The draw from the furnace affects the pressure at the oven, and it is no longer able to operate at the correct capacity. The same is true for the furnace.

    However, this is a problem that can be easily prevented with careful planning. Take your gas line configuration into account when setting up your restaurant to prevent the under-baked pizza problem from happening. A little consideration when it comes to your gas plumbing can save you expense and heartache down the road.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    The right gas supply system is crucial, especially when operating at full capacity.

    Consider all the appliances that are using your gas plumbing, not just your ovens.  Gas piping should be installed to meet the maximum demand of all appliances on the line.

    Use the correct pipes when setting up your system.

    Undersized gas pipelines will directly affect pizza oven performance by restricting gas supply and causing lack of pressure. Make sure you use the proper size gas supply line for your appliances, as described in your equipment manual.  If you’re installing a stacked oven, take this into consideration as well.

    Ensure compatibility.

    Before making utility connections to your oven, make sure your oven specifications are compatible with the gas services being supplied.

    Consult the experts.

    With 25 years in the pizza equipment business, we’re here to help.  Contact us today for questions about your restaurant’s gas plumbing and other pizza equipment needs.

  • Fictional Pizza Joints You Wish Were Real


    Have you ever been so spellbound by a fictional eatery that you wished it existed in real life? Perhaps you were drawn to the warm atmosphere of Central Perk of "Friends" fame, or the delectable waffles from JJ’s Diner in "Parks and Recreation"? Fictional pizzeria joints are no different. Their allure lies in the happiness felt in social gatherings, their sense of family, and those scrumptious other-worldly recipes. Here are some of the most memorable fictional pizzeria joints.

    Beacon Street Pizza

    This pizza shop was in the ABC sitcom "Two Guys and a Girl" that aired from 1998 to 2001. The sitcom revolved around a woman and two men who had been friends since they attended the same college. Paranoid architect Pete, grad student Michael and Sharon, the most ambitious of the trio, lived together in Boston.

    Directors here introduced an additional two characters into the plot later -- Irene, who unabashedly stalks Pete, and Johnny, the maintenance man. Pete and Michael have jobs at Beacon Street Pizza, and it’s here where the magic of friends coming together and supporting each other happens.

    Pizza Planet

    Disney’s "Toy Story" featured pizzeria establishment. A family-owned restaurant owned by Andy and all his toys, Pizza Planet is set in an intriguing space nook. The place is interestingly shaped like Saturn, with a space rocket close by. It appeared in the original "Toy Story" and its two sequels.

    The spaceship theme made Buzz Lightyear think he was going back to his planet. The establishment also served as an arcade and served favorites such as Mega Gulp sodas with its pizzas.

    Arnold’s Pizza

    This establishment was the go-to place for friends and family in "Happy Days." ABC aired the series from 1974 to 1984. It focused on life and maintaining good values in the 1950s and 1960s. Arnold’s Pizza become the most popular set for the sitcom, and Arnold worked there.

    Family Bros. Pizza

    This would appeal to anyone who loves a sense of family and escaping into the world of fantasy. This hub from "Futurama" is owned by Blek and his beloved wife. They are apparently cygnoids. Wacky recipes abound here, with toppings of flaming magnesium, asbesto and stucco. One of the favorites was Leela’s scrumptious bean pizzeria. If anything, this series is appealing because of its sense of family and community.

    All this talk of pizzeria joints may have made you nostalgic and wanting to start your own hub. If so, visit us today for an array of top-notch pizza-making equipment.

  • What You Need to Know about Pizza Restaurant Franchising

    Pizza-eating family

    Do you own a single locale in the pizza business?Are you passionate about seeing your brand of delectable specialties become a household name countrywide, or internationally? If so, you may be considering turning your local restaurant into a booming franchise. Or maybe you want to jump onto the band wagon of an already world-renowned brand, and come a franchisee? Here’s what you should know before venturing into the world of franchising.

    Risks Involved

    As with any business, turning your restaurant into a franchise will involve risks. There are however means to reduce these. It’s important to ascertain how you’ve handled risks before, and whether you are in fact in a position to take risks.

    Researching this avenue before you commence is key. If you’re looking at being a franchisee, always request a franchise disclosure document to determine sales figures. You should determine whether your business model is viable and if you’re able to secure franchisees.

    Business models in the pizza eatery industry include a delivery service, which is one of the riskiest models. Dine-in pizza restaurants require ambiance that will keep your customers coming back. Your pizza restaurant may have a carry-out option separate to your dining section.

    Your Character and the Rules

    You should evaluate your character too. Being too independent is a negative character trait for a franchisee. Ask yourself if you are able to follow rules, as there are rules in this business -- to be part of an already established pizza brand, you will have to adhere to your franchisor’s business model.

    You will also have to buy products from your franchisor. And you will have to adhere to paying your franchisor continuous royalties. This could be up to 10% of your gross sales. As a franchisee, you will have to operate under your franchisor’s trademark.

    If you’re opting to become a franchisor, ask yourself if you’re inclined to be the supportive type. This is imperative, as you will have to be committed to supporting all your new franchisees, and will have to provide assistance long after start up. This could include helping franchisees with buying, maintaining the brand, advertising, support with operations and fiscal advice.

    As a franchisor, you should present all your franchisees with a franchise agreement, a week before any pizza restaurant franchise sales. Remember to present your franchise disclosure document to prospective franchisees at least two weeks before your sale.

    Using quality equipment for your pizza restaurant is vital to your franchise’s success. Visit us today for a range of quality pizza-making equipment.

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