If you’re in the Dayton, OH, area, be sure to stop by Marion’s Piazza. The local family-owned restaurant chain is consistently voted Dayton’s best pizza and also consistently ranks at the top of the Hot 100 Independent Pizzerias list put out annually by Pizza Today. Marion’s is open from 11am to 11pm seven days a week, and on weekend nights, it can be tough to get a table even though the dining rooms can seat between 240 and 500 customers.
Marion’s serves “Dayton-style pizza,” which is thin crust and cut into squares. The crusts are made with fresh yeast six days a week in a central dough room and then shipped to the restaurant’s nine locations. Every day, the five dough room employees make thousands of doughs in 240-pound batches — first the small crusts and then the large crusts. With this kind of volume being produced daily, Marion’s can’t take the chance that one of their machines might go down.
That’s why they decided to purchase new proofing equipment from Naegele Bakery Systems. “I’ve been with the company for about 30 years, and the proofer we had before was about 30 years old,” says John Davis, an area supervisor at Marion’s. “Our old proofer worked, but it was getting difficult to get parts and we worried that the chain was getting so stretched that it wouldn’t be worth it to keep replacing parts.”
Marion’s had some experience with machines going down. When a tornado came through Dayton a few years ago, the electricity went out and it took a day to get a new generator in place. “If it had been any longer, we would have been totally out of doughs at all of the stores,” Davis says. “Our supply chain is such that we have a 1½ day supply of dough. This was critical to our decision-making because if the proofer were to break down and we couldn’t get parts for two or three days, we were going to have trouble.”
They decided on a new overhead proofer, which the Naegele team installed last September. “Chuck [Naegele] did a bang-up job,” Davis says. “We planned on shutting down for two days and making dough on the third. We actually made some dough at the end of the second day, and, the next morning, it was just like a normal day.”
Marion’s had purchased the proofer to ensure against running out of doughs due to equipment failure. What they hadn’t anticipated is that the new equipment would make their everyday operations more efficient.
First, the proofer reduces waste by significantly decreasing the number of doubles that have to be thrown away. “We used to have to go in and throw 200 to 300 doubles away every day,” Davis says. “Now, we average fewer than five a day.”
In addition, productivity in the dough room is up. Davis says that the new proofer saves about ½ hour of labor per employee per day. That translates to about 12 hours every week. This time savings has a positive impact on the rest of the company’s operations. In the past, truck drivers would often have to wait for doughs to be ready so they could transport them to the store locations. Now, the doughs are done earlier, which means no more waiting. It also means that the doughs are delivered to the restaurants well before they start to get busy for dinner service.
The new equipment is also easier to clean and maintain. The panels and other areas are designed for easy access, and the machine has built-in UV light sanitizing capabilities to ensure no pathogens can harbor in the pockets. “Our maintenance person hasn’t had to do anything.”
Overall, Davis is impressed by the quality of both the equipment and the service he received from Naegele. “The equipment is well-built, and the Naegele team was 100% professional. I highly recommend them.”