Whether it’s something from the store’s old-time soda fountain or an array of burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and now pizza, Big Ed’s lets customers enjoy vintage 1930’s style dining
Three years ago, Big Ed’s decided to add more items to the menu, including pizza. DeFilippo’s Pizza was born, and a Peerless 2324 soon became the focal point of the store’s busier-than-ever kitchen.
“We’ve had this oven for about three years now, ” said Karen Wagner, co-manager at Big Ed’s along with Leisa Lane. “The restaurant has been here since early 2000, and they were pretty much doing the standard hamburgers and hot dogs, that kind of stuff.
“But a couple of years ago, they decided to expand and try some new things out, and pizza was one of them. They brought in the Peerless, and it has been everything we hoped it would be. It also provides a lot of heat for us during the winter time too, and that helps cut down on the heating bill,” she chuckled.
Adding pizza to the store’s menu and making it a crowd pleaser took some time, Wagner said.
“We had to get the right dough and the right pizza sauce. We spent time getting that down pat. The former manager had gone to a class out in Las Vegas and went to a seminar about making pizza. She knew what she had to do and the temperatures the pizza had to be cooked at. We knew we were going to cook them on a stone, so she learned the temperatures, the time, all of that.”
Since then, the Peerless 2324P has been a workhorse for Big Ed’s busy kitchen.
“We got our process down to where our cook time was around 12 minutes, which is perfect. By the time we make the pizza we’re looking at 20 minutes max. That’s what we tell out customers: 20 minutes for a to go order. Domino’s might tell you 15 minutes, but our pizzas are 20 minutes because they’re made with love,” she said.
Adding the Peerless oven not only paid off with great pizza, it also led to more tasty items to be added to the menu.
“We expanded a little bit and added more things to our menu,” Wagner added. “We have our Subwich Sandwiches. We have a turkey sub, a meatball sub, a roast beef sub – a Philly – and we make all of those in the oven. We also do quiches for the lighter side of our menu, and we cook those in the oven as well. We are always trying to find more things we can utilize it for. It’s a big part of our kitchen, and it’s very consistent in its performance.
She said they have no problems cooking multiple items at the same time. “I’ve made pizzas and subs, then thrown hamburger and hot dog buns in there at the same time when we’re extremely busy. One time we had a pizza order for a private party, and we did eight pizzas all at the same time. That was huge, because we didn’t know at the time whether we were going to lose temperature or not by cooking all of those at the same time. Those pizzas were still coming out in 12 minutes flat. And there was no problem at all with recovery time after an order that big. The oven always holds its temperature, no problem.”
Wagner also said they have been pleased with the 2324’s versatility.
“We’ve even made some baked goods in the oven, and we’ve talked about doing a precook on our chicken wings. We’ve cooked our pork in it for our pulled pork sandwiches. Whatever you can make in your oven at home, you can do the same thing here.”
Big Ed’s Main Street Soda Grill
5502 Liberty Avenue
Vermilion, Ohio 44089
Karen Wagner and Leisa Lane