WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) — A fresh pepperoni pizza should be sauced, topped and oven ready in 60 seconds.
That’s the goal of Sierra Rettig, assistant manager of Domino’s Pizza in Wahpeton. Rettig, 28, has been with Domino’s for the past eight years. Her job is secure, but it’s also flexible.
“I’m a ‘whatever you need me to be,'” she said.
The Wahpeton Daily News visited Rettig and Store Manager Michael Mueller on an average late morning. Both arrived to work around 10 a.m. and until 12:30 p.m., they were the only ones working.
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“I usually work a 10-hour day,” Rettig continued. “Sometimes it’s until 7 p.m., sometimes 5 p.m. We’re currently short-staffed, so we’re all working longer days.”
The short-staffing is a seasonal consequence. Many of Domino’s’ staff are college students who are now out of the area for Christmas vacation. The students’ vacation also reduces the amount of pizza orders.
“We do slow down a little bit. It happens in the summer too, for longer,” Rettig said.
Mueller, 25, has been a manager for nearly three years. He’s been with the Domino’s Pizza in Wahpeton for just over a year after previously managing in Moorhead and Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The Wahpeton location is the only Domino’s Rettig has worked for.
“I’m required to train all the new employees,” Mueller explained. “I make food just like all my employees do. I more or less supervise everybody in the store and make sure they’re doing their job at the proper level. I’m here to enforce that we’re providing the best customer service we possibly can.”
Confidentiality prevents Mueller from saying how many employees he supervises. He also couldn’t let the Daily News ride along on a delivery. However, he was able to speak openly about recipes, since Dominos lists their ingredients for nutritional reasons.
“Our most popular pizza would be the simple pepperoni. A lot of the college students order the wings,” he said.
Preparation is the name of the game in the morning. Mueller and Rettig were getting ready for a busy evening. Wahpeton High School had ordered 30 pizzas for the choir to eat in between performances of “The Glory of Christmas.”
Other orders were coming in at a rapid pace as well. Mueller and Rettig took phone calls, typing in the relevant information. Their computer is hooked up to the printer that creates each individual pizza label. The printer is also in sync with online orders, allowing labels to be printed without Mueller and Rettig inputting the information.
“It takes about seven minutes to come out of our oven,” Rettig said. “It seems longer if you watch. The second oven is for things that need to be cooked a little bit longer, like pizzas with extra toppings. When you go to our website, it has the ‘Domino’s Tracker.’ It’s synced to our ovens, so it’s giving you an accurate reading of when the food will be ready.”
On average, Rettig delivers 15-30 orders every day. There are, of course, variances by season and by day. The average delivery is completed in about 15 minutes, Mueller said.
Time is one important factor for the people who make and deliver pizza. Another important factor is preparation. The secret to making a good pizza is getting the portions right, Rettig explained.
“A lot of people think where you lose time is (putting on the toppings). It’s actually with saucing and cheesing. You want to get an even consistency. That’s the most important part. Our goal is that if you order something here, it should be the same every time. Quality control and portion control are important. It should be the same thing you can order in Michigan, so people will come back and order it again,” she said.
Domino’s Inc. is based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The parent company was responsible for the Wahpeton store’s renovation, which occurred in November 2016, the Wahpeton Daily News reported .
“It was a companywide decision,” Rettig continued. “People come in and you can tell they haven’t been in here for a while, because they’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s changed in here.'”
The renovation included adding a chalkboard wall for guests of all ages to write on.
“People will come in and ask for a ladder. I tell them, ‘No, you don’t need one.’ Everybody wants to write on the wall. I didn’t know how it was going to go when we put this in. It’s a positive thing, as long as the messages are clean. College kids are, well, college kids,” Rettig said.
Domino’s renovation in town also included changing a solid wall in front of the pizza creation space to one of clear plastic.
“Kids can step up and watch the dough going around. Plus, having the clear wall brings more sun in,” Rettig continued.
After years of being told not to toss the pizza dough, Rettig is now encouraged to do so. Domino’s motto is that frozen pizza dough is the root of all evil, so the dough is kept in a cooler on site.
“We do not make the dough, but we do stretch it out,” Mueller explained as he made an order of Bread Twists.
“During the remodel, we did not shut down,” Rettig said as she tossed dough. “Domino’s has a group of construction workers that travel around. When we’d close, they’d start working. When I’d come back the next day, they’d just be finishing. It was crazy. I’d come in and be, ‘Oh my gosh, you guys did all this.’ Then there’d be mornings where I’d think, ‘What did you do all night?’ because the changes weren’t as easy to see. They got everything done and it looks amazing. Two weeks and it was business as usual the whole time.”
According to Mueller and Rettig, there are currently no plans to expand Domino’s in Wahpeton further to include seating. Domino’s has been located at 102 Fourth St. S. in Wahpeton for at least 15 years.
“I started here when I was 20,” Rettig remembered. “My dad worked at a pizza place a long time ago. It had one of those brick ovens, so you had to turn the pizza every five minutes. That’s so cool. I wish I could use one of those.”
Both Mueller and Rettig have their reasons for making and delivering pizza.
“I love when we get phone calls from people who tell us they were satisfied. I’d like to see it happen more often,” he said.
It’s all in a late morning’s work for Michael Mueller and Sierra Rettig, there during the calm before the storm.
Information from: Wahpeton Daily News, http://www.wahpetondailynews.com