Made In Our Hometown: Pizzametry
Updated: Friday, October 18 2013, 05:39 PM EDT
Rochester, N.Y. - A Webster company is banking on its high-tech vending machines to help it grab a slice of the $37 billion U.S. pizza industry. A half-dozen engineers at Pizzametry – most are former Xerox employees – are about ready to roll out the idea on a large scale. One of the machines was just installed at a local hospital this week.
In just three and a half minutes, Pizzametry's vending machines make a fresh pizza, in much the same way it’s done at pizzerias around the world. The machines cut frozen dough into a puck shape. After it’s pressed out, yeast, not chemicals, make the dough rise. In the next step, toppings are added, before the pizza is moved to a real oven in the rear of the machine.
John Kavazanjian, the Co-CEO of Pizzametry, says, "There's food science in this. There's robotics. Probably a couple hundred thousand lines of software, seven programmable computers and one full PC.”
The machines are also networked, so food service operators will know when supplies need replenishing.
"The idea is to find operators who have food service at hospitals or small hotels, college dorms, trucking centers," says Kavazanjian, who is the former CEO of Ultralife Batteries. "Places we think are underserved for prepared food."
Pizza buyers, who will pay about $6.00 for a cheese pizza, and $6.50 for a pepperoni pizza, can watch through the window as the pizza is made. A timer on the machine’s flat screen monitor tracks the progress of their pie. The machine can have several pizzas in cue, turning out a new pizza as frequently as every 90 seconds.
And that 32 inch screen can be used to deliver targeted advertising, with the message customized to each machine's location.
The technology is all very impressive, but it’s the taste of the pizza that has been the priority from the beginning.
“The dough is excellent and it's first class cheese,” Kavazanjian says. “Quick frozen mozzarella. Fresh as can be once cooked and melted. We slice the pepperoni fresh. It really is better than it has to be.”
The idea came from New York City businessman and entrepreneur Puzant Khatchadourian, who years ago decided he could do better than the frozen pizza with a cardboard-like crust he once tried in a cafeteria.
The first versions of the machines have been tested -- and volume production will start soon. The machines will be made by Calvary Automation, Pizzametry’s neighbor on Publisher’s Parkway in Webster. More information is available at the company’s website, www.pizzametry.com