Fast-growing restaurant chain Franco Manca, which cooks its pizzas in a flagship wood-burning ‘Tufae’ brick oven imported from Naples, will consider using a second oven supplier as it opens more sites.
The company’s entire proposition is built around the authentic 500°C domed oven, which serves as the focal point of its flagship open kitchens.
And while the chain doesn’t have any issues with the reliability of the oven or the support that it receives, it believes that bringing a second supplier on board is the sensible option in light of its growth plans.
The 20-strong chain is close to opening a new site in Stoke Newington, while further London stores are planned this year. It will also expand outside of the capital for the first time, including as far south as Southampton and as far west as Bristol.
“We are looking at a second solution in London that matches what we currently do so that we have two suppliers in future,” said managing director Nabil Mankarious. “It would be the same oven and the same way of cooking, but two suppliers. If we are going to start opening a lot of restaurants, the guys from Italy might not be able to support us all the way.”
Franco Manca typically fires up its ovens at 10 in the morning and the units will often run for 13 to 14 hours a day. The oven takes two hours from start-up to reach optimum temperature, but it is capable of processing huge volumes. “The maximum we have ever done from one oven was during the London Olympics, when our site in Stratford was producing 2,000 pizzas a day,” said Mankarious.
He added that the chain is always on the look-out for innovative catering equipment, but said it remains choosy over the kit it uses.
“It is essential for us to sustain the quality, so we need to make sure that whatever we are going to bring in has to be trialled for a period of time before we put it into the restaurants. If you look at our dough mixers, they are manufactured for us and we have to order them well in advance. We mix the dough in a certain way to achieve the outcome that we do.”