Differences Between a Deck Oven and a Conveyor Oven
The popularity of pizza as a menu item has been rapidly growing over the past decade. From high-volume chains to gourmet pizzerias, this growth is hard to ignore. If you’re thinking about capitalizing on this trend, you will have to make plenty of decisions, including what type of oven to buy. There are two overarching types of pizza ovens. The first is a deck oven, which is typically found in sit-down traditional Italian restaurants. The other is a conveyor oven, which is more commonly found in chain, quick-serve, and delivery establishments. While neither one of them has an advantage in every category, each lends itself more readily to certain applications.
The best pizza oven for: Take-out, quick-serve, delivery, pizza buffets
Used by: Domino’s Pizza, CiCi’s Pizza, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint
These ovens work by placing the pizza on the front of a conveyor belt. The conveyor moves the pizza through the oven to cook it. After it’s done, the conveyor moves the pizza to a resting place outside the oven. This design allows for a lot of pizzas to be cooked with very little supervision from the cook. Because of this ease of use and the ability to produce a lot of pies in a short period of time, these ovens are a better choice for high volume operations with limited menus. If you’re going to open a take-out, quick-serve, delivery, or pizza buffet establishment, these are your best choice.
The conveyor design makes cooking significantly easier. Just put a pizza on the conveyor, go to work on something else, come back in a few minutes and the pizza will be done. This makes this oven a good solution where there is plenty of work to be done and limited staff to do it. It also means that it is the best for inexperienced cooks because these ovens do not require as much attention. And because you keep baking pizzas one right after another, you can make more in a shorter amount of time. Since these ovens require no adjustments, they produce a consistent product every time.
But the conveyor design does have some drawbacks. The most notable is significantly less control over the cooking process than a deck oven. Because of this, you won’t be able to cook different styles of pizza, like Chicago deep dish (with soft crust and lots of sauce and toppings) and New York style (with thin crust and few ingredients), in the same oven at the same time. If you have an experienced chef, the inability to make adjustments will not make the chef any more useful than an inexperienced cook. Pizza aficionados will also tell you that these ovens don’t produce the same quality of Neapolitan- or New York-style pizza that a deck oven bakes, because they don’t heat evenly. These ovens have more moving parts that could potentially cause maintenance issues and are time-consuming to clean. They also require a much larger working footprint, not only because of the actual size of the oven, but the open space or clearance needed on either end for access. Of the two oven types, these make more noise and are usually less attractive.
Benefits and considerations:
- Best for high-volume establishments.
- Do not require an experienced staff.
- Significantly less control makes for smaller menus.
The best pizza oven for: Gourmet and authentic pizzerias, traditional sit-down restaurants, operations with a longer menu
Used by: Pizza Factory, Mellow Mushroom
If you wish to open a traditional sit-down pizza place, these may be a better choice for you. They work by having a deck inside the oven made of metal, stone, brick, or ceramic tile. After placing an uncooked pizza on top of this deck, the deck transfers heat to the pizza. This allows the oven to evenly heat the crust and the ingredients on top. Because of this, these are best for restaurants who wish to make a gourmet pizza. They’re also good choices for restaurants who want to serve items other than pizza, such as sandwiches, breads, or even steaks.
This type of oven is more adjustable, with the chef having greater control over temperatures and air flow. Since the chef (and not the conveyor belt) can decide when to remove the food, it can be cooked either more or less done. This enables you to make many different types of pizza as well as other items in these ovens. If your restaurant is going to serve anything other than one specific type of pizza, then you should choose this type of oven. They are also easier to clean and less expensive to repair. Since they do not have a conveyor on each end, they have a smaller footprint, and can be dressed-up with wood or stone paneling outside for a more attractive appearance.
There are a few drawbacks to these ovens. They can’t keep up with a busy rush during peak hours as well. These ovens have longer recovery times, which can slow down production. Because they are more complicated to use, you’ll need an experienced cook to operate them. They are more labor intensive and require more attention, making it more difficult to multi-task.
Benefits and considerations:
- More adjustability allows for more items to be cooked in one oven.
- Provides a more authentic crust and flavor that customers may be willing to pay more for.
- Longer heat recovery times when adding large quantities of cold food.
- Require more experienced chefs to operate.
Basically, the type of oven that your pizza operation should buy depends on what type of restaurant you want to create. If your ideal restaurant is a high-volume operation and is specializing in only one type of pizza, get a conveyor oven. They’ll produce more pies with less work from your cooks. But, if you plan on running a more traditional sit-down restaurant that may have other baked menu items, look at a deck oven. They produce more handcrafted pizzas, allowing you to make more than one type of pie, as well as sandwiches, baked pasta dishes, bread and meat. While neither oven has a clear advantage for everyone, the advantages each have are distinct. In order to ensure your restaurant maximizes its profitability, it’s important that you buy the one that fits your restaurant’s concept and volume.