PizzaHQ in Woodland Park isn’t your common red-sauce Italian joint. Neither is it attempting to be.
No wizened pizzaiolo is behind the scenes, hand-rolling dough and sprinkling flakes of cheese.
As an alternative, almost all the pieces is automated. Pizza HQ, when it opens later this week, will serve robot-made pizza.
OK, perhaps not Rosie from “The Jetsons.” However undoubtedly an automatic meeting line.
A press flattens disks of dough to precisely the best measurement. A human takes the dough off the press and locations it on a pie tin. Then the dough is distributed alongside a conveyor belt with a machine (from the meals automation firm Picnic) that applies sauce, cheese and toppings — the identical quantity each time. It then goes on one other journey on a belt that runs by means of an extended, flat oven the dimensions of a automobile. When it reaches the opposite facet — in simply over 5 minutes — the pie is cooked and able to be sliced by one other machine, which divides the pizza into exactly lower slices.
This course of is, in fact, fairly totally different from what most North Jersey pizza-eaters are used to. However founders Jason Udrija, Darryl Dueltgen and Matt Thomas aren’t attempting to exchange your favourite family-owned pizza store.
They’re attempting to be the place you flip to when you might have an enormous party and want uniform, inexpensive pies. The place colleges name after they cater homecomings and spirit nights. The place you order from whenever you want a pizza delivered in a half-hour.
“We need to be often called the quick, environment friendly model that helps you out in a pinch,” Udrija mentioned.
Thomas is PizzaHQ’s CFO and in-house authorized counsel. Dueltgen has a background in pizza: He based and owns Pizza Love in Wyckoff. Udrija labored with him for a time at Pizza Love after which went on to concentrate on growing PizzaHQ.
Udrija and Dueltgen regarded on the points dealing with pizza outlets — meals waste, with the ability to make and cook dinner only some pizzas at a time, the shortage of expert staff (“Discovering a pizza man that’s expert is absolutely arduous,” Udrija mentioned) — and tried to place programs in place to mitigate these woes.
“Automation is touching each single business,” Udrija mentioned. “Usually, it’s in entrance of home with ordering programs and pickup lockers.”
In New Jersey, we’ve seen new automats opening, robots carting bowls of ramen to prospects, a merchandising machine cooking a burger in a couple of minutes flat. Pizza, argues Udrija, is the subsequent frontier.
The staff at PizzaHQ spent months attempting totally different sauces, cheeses and doughs, twiddling with the ratio of sauce to cheese, determining how sizzling the highest of the oven ought to be to soften the cheese and the underside of the oven to crisp the crust.
“We’re in North Jersey,” mentioned Udrija. “We’re not going to do effectively if the pizza isn’t good. The method doesn’t devalue the ultimate product.”
A plain pizza at PizzaHQ is $9.99. A specialty pie with toppings (pepperoni, meatball, sausage, meat lovers, onion, white and extra) ranges from $11.99 to $16.99.
“It’s low-cost not as a result of the meals is substandard,” Udrija mentioned. “We’re saving on labor and creating a really environment friendly product.”
PizzaHQ provides supply by means of its personal app and web site and has a small entrance part the place prospects can decide up particular person pies. (You too can order by means of third-party supply providers.)
However they’re nonetheless very targeted on large-scale occasions and catering. Pizza, mentioned Udrija, is the No. 1 menu merchandise in colleges. As a result of PizzaHQ’s pies are made so shortly and uniformly — and its gear can accommodate allergic reactions and gluten intolerances — the founders have put loads of muscle into gaining purchasers in want of a whole lot of pies at a time.
One other area that may function the principle hub and manufacturing website is about to open within the subsequent 12 months or so in Totowa, as effectively, multiplying the variety of pizzas they will make. They’re additionally wanting into opening smaller places, particularly in Union County. Their present setup is in Woodland Park, within the area previously occupied by Lorenzo’s.
“Some venues do 30 events a weekend. They’re at all times in search of consistency when it comes to the standard and worth,” mentioned Udrija. “The native pizzeria on the town bodily can’t do greater than 200 pizzas for varsity occasions.
“The sky is the restrict as to who we will serve and the way a lot we will serve to them.”
Go: 223 New St., Woodland Park; 973-337-2000, pizza-hq.com.