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Pizza deliveries go through the roof as DIY kits and part-bake services grow in popularity

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Customers get a slice of the action by making their own pizzas at home.

While the nation’s biggest pizza takeaway firms have been continuing to operate throughout lockdown, it’s not just their resilience which is being noticed.

With numerous people now looking to support local businesses more than ever, many of us are turning to our favourite pizza eateries.

As some launch different services, others begin to remodel their offering entirely to ensure they can survive the pandemic.

Many independent pizza restaurants have introduced their own at-home pizza-making kits, allowing customers to get their teeth into their much-loved dishes. Some are also introducing new delivery services while others are offering part-baked services, too.

Mike Gaffney of Mikes Pizza Gaff in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire is just one of those pizza-making businesses adapting to the on-going situation.

The new way of operating has led to a spike in sales, and Mike says the best part is seeing more and more families come together at dinner time.

Mike Gaffney of Mikes Pizza Gaff

He said: “Things are going well considering. We are continuing to try to follow the original business plan albeit there have been minor tweaks. Some of our targets have come forward in our timeline and some shifting backwards slightly. We are just trying to be as fluid as possible.

“Demand has continued to increase month on month since the business started, however, we experienced a significant uplift towards the end of March and into April as lockdown was enforced. We have had so many kind messages from customers telling us we have allowed families to bond, provided children a bit of theatre at dinner time and even allowed couples an opportunity to come closer and reconnect in the midst of the pandemic.”

Taking on a premises in Ellon due to the demand for his online business, Mike will be able to increase production and ensure all orders are fulfilled.

He said: “There are always challenges to overcome when demand increases. The biggest of which is space! We have recently taken on larger premises in Ellon which is currently going through a re-fit. It will allow an increase in production and storage, making sure we can meet demand as it continues to grow.

One of the orders Mike has sent out to customers

“We take orders directly through the website as this is the best way to keep track of stock levels. Facebook and Instagram are linked to the website so that if orders are placed through there it automatically adjusts our stock levels.”

Offering UK-wide delivery pre-Covid-19, Mike decided to scale back his deliveries when items started going missing. Instead, he now offers deliveries of a 20-mile radius of Newburgh and has contactless drop-off and pick-up.

Adjusting his business has allowed Mike to keep customers safe and ensure he provides his high quality service while adding new lines and ingredients, too.

“We have seen a significant uplift in The Full Kit sales. People like the fact that there is everything in the box. They can then use their imagination for topping choices. It’s been fantastic to see some of the creations that people have been making!

“We have recently launched some new toppings including coppa/coppa piccante, truffle salami and Napoli cut mozzarella. There are so many more that we will look to introduce in the coming weeks/months. Regardless of your dietary requirements. whether you are vegan, have a gluten or dairy intolerance, there should be no restrictions.”

Making more than 200 pizzas every weekend, events catering firm Haydn’s Woodfired Pizza has collaborated with The Newmachar Hotel in Newmachar, Aberdeenshire after its events bookings disappeared almost overnight.

Rob Fenton, owner of Haydn’s Woodfired Pizza outside The Newmachar Hotel

Rob Fenton, owner of Haydn’s Woodfired Pizza, said: “Demand has been really high and we get many enquires with some customers booking a week in advance. Saturday is by far the busiest, we are almost always fully booked. We have a set amount of orders we can take and its just me and my wife Deborah in the kitchen. So far it’s run well and we are making over 100 pizzas each weekend quite evenly split between deliveries and collection.

“We always see a lot of Pepperoni and Margherita but the BBQ chicken is very popular. Having the hotel’s oven we also offer side orders and see a lot of people ordering chicken wings and wedges.”

Covering the Newmachar and Kingseat area, Rob is grateful for the opportunity to use the hotel’s premises and facilitates to keep his business going.

He added: “We did consider trying to run something from home but felt it would be too difficult with the limits and levels of compliance. We had run events at the hotel before and have always had a good relationship so fortunately for us the hotel approached us asking if we wanted to run something out of their kitchen. It was the perfect solution as the compliance was already in place and the facilities were ideal to start trading straight away.

“After three weeks in lockdown we were really concerned about the future, but since starting the takeaway we’ve had an amazing response from the community which has really eased a lot of pressure, at least in the short term.

“I definitely think we are capable of running a delivery service in the future but I see us holding off for a while until we have a better idea of the long-term impact we might see to the economy. In the short to medium term I would like to see if offering a takeaway/delivery service to smaller more remote communities around Aberdeenshire. With what we have learned working with the hotel it wouldn’t be difficult to replicate.”

In Dundee, numerous eateries are creating their own pizza-making kits while also offering delivery services, something many of them have never done before.

Dominique Newton, third generation of family business, Luigi’s Pizzeria which was established in 1948, says launching new services has been vital for the eatery.

She said: “We have just launched our DIY pizza kits which includes two dough balls, passata, mozzarella cubes and a pot of garlic and herb oil. We sell them at £12 and people are loving them.

Luigi’s Pizzeria pizza making kit

“Our delivery orders have increased substantially since we began working from a closed shop. Our workload has tripled. We are offering contactless delivery as well as an additional part-baked pizza service to the surrounding areas of Dundee. The part-baked pizzas have proven really successful as many of our customers live in more rural communities and struggle to get food deliveries.

“We have an app which customers use to order and have received many lovely messages of appreciation as well as little jokes, too.”

One of the jokes a customer has sent to the team via an order

With increased demand comes more and more orders, something Dominique is continuously trying to get a hold on.

She added: “One of the hardest tasks right now is the management of  deliveries. We receive so many from all over to be delivered at roughly the same time, even with four delivery drivers this can be challenging. We recommend customers pre-order and have seen orders coming in as early as 7am. It’s just myself, my husband, my mum, two members of staff and the delivery drivers working just now.

One of the tasty pizzas at Luigi’s Pizzeria

“Our most popular pizzas without fail remains the classic Margherita. Our Sicilian is the runner up, followed by our Calabria. Most orders will include a side of some sort and arancini is also flying out the door. We make everything in-house and have struggled to find fresh vegetables the most. Our main supplier stopped buying it in as many restaurants closed. Thankfully another local supplier has managed to help us. Fresh basil has been an issue as of late so we have just finished planting 20 basil plants in our home greenhouse as well as tomatoes to keep us stocked up over the summer months.”

Pizza Revolution in Broughty Ferry has also developed a new takeaway/delivery service to safeguard its future. With a full restaurant packed on Friday’s and Saturday’s co-owner Lee Patterson knew he had to act fast if he wanted to retain his loyal customers.

He said: “Operating as a dine-in restaurant and having to adapt our way of thinking has been a difficult transition. We have always focused on fresh ingredients and maintained that our pizzas are best served straight from our wood-fired oven, which doesn’t translate well for takeaway purposes.

“We invested in new packaging and limit the number of deliveries at any one time to maintain quality. We can take payments on our website and we have also had to hire a delivery driver. We do still offer collection, and customers can pick their desired time slots online.

“We have been overwhelmed by the success of our takeaway and are probably selling more pizzas than ever. Obviously our alcoholic drink sales have been effected which has reflected in our profits. We do have a license for off sales but we can’t compete with supermarket prices. When the restaurant is fully operational we are limited by the number of seats, however, as a takeaway there are less limits.

“We’ve always tried to avoid offering a delivery service as we felt we would struggle to cope with demand of running a restaurant and takeaway together. The restaurant is and always will be our number one priority.”

Introducing frying pan kits, Lee says customers can try emulate the eatery’s popular pizzas by using this easy trick.

He said: “Our frying pan pizza kits are a really simple and fun way to get kids and adults alike baking and creating at home. Each kit comes with two dough balls, tomato sauce, grated Parmesan, fresh basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil and some flour. The use of a frying pan and a grill replicates the heat of a traditional pizza oven. The frying pan being the floor of the oven and the grill being the dome of the oven.

“While these kits can be made in a domestic oven nothing will come close to the frying pan trick unless you’re lucky enough to own your own pizza oven. The problem with domestic ovens is they cannot get anywhere near hot enough for pizza making but a smoking hot dry frying pan (no oil) and a glowing grill is the next best thing.”