Dessert pizzas can translate into sweet sales

Sept. 27, 2009
This summer, pizzeria operator Carol Corrie was looking for a way to spice up the menu at the Cloverleaf Bar and Restaurant, the restaurant she operates in Eastpointe, Mich.
Square, Sicilian-style pizza is the name of the game at the 66-year-old Cloverleaf. The restaurant is consistently named one of the top pizzerias in the Detroit area.
Corrie found what she was looking for by taking the restaurant's pizza dough and adding a few simple ingredients to create a dessert pizza.
"We are a gourmet pizza place and we charge a bit more than some of the other places," Corrie said. "In times like these, we have to get a little more creative."
Corrie had been hosting occasional Chamber of Commerce breakfast meetings at the Cloverleaf. Although she started out cooking eggs ands buying Danish for the meetings, she soon realized that wasn't what her restaurant was all about.
After a little thought, she decided to try her hand at a pizza-centered version of a Danish. The result was a hit with the Chamber.
"We take our pizza crust, cover it with apple pie filling, take an apple crumb topping, sprinkle that on top and bake it in the oven," she said. "After it comes out we squirt caramel on top. People think they are wonderful."
The product has been so well received that Corrie is planning to make it a regular menu item. In development is a similar product made with cherry filling and topped with chocolate.
And depending on their reception, dessert pizzas may end up on the menu of the two delivery/carryout locations Cloverleaf operates in the Detroit area.
"I haven't introduced it to them yet, but once I market it here I'm going to include them," Corrie said.
New items require only a few basic ingredients
According to the 2009 Pizza Marketplace State of the Industry report, about 27 percent of operators offer some sort of dessert pizza. Those who do say that as much as 20 percent of their revenue comes from the sale of desserts.
About 45 percent of those who offer dessert pizzas say sales have increased over the past three years. And among those who don't offer dessert, nearly half say they are considering adding them to the menu.
The success of dessert pizzas isn't necessarily the most popular dessert item operators can offer, though. CiCi's officials are phasing out their apple dessert pizza in favor of cinnamon rolls and brownies, which have proved to be more successful for the buffet chain.
Adding dessert pizzas to the menu, operators say, can be as simple as buying one or two additional ingredients and combining them with products already in house.
"Our dessert pizzas utilize the same handmade dough used for our regular pizza," said Lisa Prouhet, director of marketing for the 33-unit Stevi B's pizza buffet chain. "The only items we had to bring in were different flavor toppings."
Dessert pizzas on the menu at Stevi B's include Strawberry Bavarian, Cherry Bavarian, S'mores, and Apple Crisp.
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Priced properly, dessert pizzas can help lower costs and boost profits. Consider an order for two large one-topping pizzas with a ticket price of $20 per order and a food cost of 30 percent. With the addition of a $6 dessert pizza that carries a food cost of 20 percent, that order turns into a $26 check with an overall food cost of 28.8 percent, sending an additional 30 cents to the bottom line.
Using those figures, even selling 10 dessert pizza a day could add an additional $21,000 in revenue and more than $1,000 in additional net income over the course of a year.
And while adding a new menu item can require some additional staff training, it doesn't take much effort to get staff to suggest desserts. Point-of-sale systems can easily be set up to prompt order-takers to suggest dessert pizzas.
"A scripted upselling prompt in the POS gives staff the right words to use at the right point in the transaction," said Jennifer Wiebe, marketing manager for POS provider SpeedLine Solutions. "Even just asking the customer if they'd like to add a dessert pizza to their order can translate into a significant boost in revenue."
Easy cherry dessert pizza
1 12-inch hand-tossed pizza base 6 oz. cherry pie filling
White icing
  • Cover the pizza base with pie filling in the same manner as you would with pizza sauce.
  • Run though a conveyor oven or bake for the same length of time as it takes to cook a 12-inch cheese pizza.
  • Top with a lattice of white icing.

Serves 8

Operators can also use the employee item sales reporting from the POS to track performance and to implement contests that motivate staff to sell more, Wiebe said.
With a bit of creativity, the possibilities for menu expansion with dessert pizzas are nearly limitless. The menu at Pizza Inn, for example, features a line of Pizzerts including flavors such as Chocolate Cherry, Rocky Road, Double Chocolate and Bavarian Crème, as well as a Cinnamon Stromboli that features a blend of cinnamon, sugar and chopped nuts
The company is currently testing a Bananas Foster dessert pizza.
"I was talking to (another chef) and I was wondering what we could do with bananas," said Pizza Inn executive chef Bud Boswell. "We made a traditional Banana's Foster puree using Meyer's Rum. We put that on the pizza and hit it with white icing when it comes out of the oven. It's very simple and very operationally efficient."

Topics: Marketing

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