After Denver-based Mici Handcrafted Italian sold its first franchise deal in November with plans to open 30 more stores over the next 7-8 years, the fast-casual pizza and pasta chain has begun to grow. look to the future of expansion through franchising.
One of Mici CEO Elliot Schiffer’s biggest concerns was maintaining food quality as the company grew. Enter, the automated pizza press: Mici patented the device in 2019 and it began rolling out to stores in 2021, with the aim of making pizzas uniform and easy to create for all Mici employees, without having to need a specialized pizza maker. This is just one of the ways automation and AI are taking off and making a difference in kitchens.
The pizza press can perfectly flatten the dough into a circle, stretch it and form a raised crust on the edges: no need to mix the dough.
“You have the grizzled veteran pizza maker in the kitchen and no one would want to come near the station because it was so hard to learn,” said Mici founder Jeff Miceli. “It is a difficult and physically demanding process […] It would drive me crazy to have to teach even seasoned cooking veterans how to put the crust on a piece of dough, and it would take two months to get them good at it. This is where the idea of the pizza press was born.
Now, even Mici’s delivery drivers think they have a pretty good idea of how to successfully make pizza.
“The pizza press plus the conveyor belt oven and the fact that we’ve put all of these parts together, not only is training easier, but our throughput is doubled,” Micelli said.