What Pizza Oven Does Papa John’s Use?

I spend a lot of time talking about the best pizza ovens on this website, and for good reason—they’re essential for making the best quality pizza. But big pizza chains can’t use the same kinds of pizza ovens that I use, especially the smaller more portable ones. Papa John’s is no exception, and being such a well-known pizza chain, many people are curious about the pizza ovens they use.

Papa John’s uses several different pizza oven models at their locations, but they mainly use three specific commercial pizza ovens made Middleby Marshall—the 770-WOW, the PS970G, and the PS360GWB. While very similar to one another, each of these three commercial pizza ovens has different strengths and weaknesses. In this post, I’ll be discussing what pizza oven Papa John’s uses and what makes each one unique.

By the way, if you’re interested in buying a pizza oven for your home, be sure to check out my guide to picking the best outdoor or indoor pizza oven that matches your budget and pizza preferences.

What pizza oven does Papa John's use?
Photo: A 770 WOW model pizza oven commonly used by Papa John’s.

Papa John’s Uses The Middleby Marshall 770 WOW Pizza Oven

The Middleby Marshall PS770 WOW oven is a direct gas-fired conveyor oven designed for cooking a wide variety of products, including pizza, sandwiches, and cookies. Its patented technology features vertical columns of hot air that move heat aerodynamically, removing any cool air from the chamber which keeps the pizza warm. This, in theory, results in rapid baking without burning and at a lower temperature than other ovens.

According to the 770 WOW manual, one of the key feature of the 770 WOW oven is its energy-saving capabilities. The Energy Management System (EMS) automatically reduces gas consumption and increases cooking efficiency, which is aimed at helping Papa John’s save money on energy costs. Also, the touch screen control panel can be programmed into three energy-saving modes, giving each Papa John’s franchise the ability to automatically reduce air velocity and temperature. This feature is particularly useful for large chains like Papa John’s, where energy costs can quickly add up across multiple locations.

In terms of cleaning and maintenance, the PS770 WOW oven is fairly simple to maintain. Removable parts include: crumb pans, end panels, air fingers, and a folding conveyor belt assembly. This means that cleaning and servicing the oven is relatively quick and easy, which helps to minimize downtime and maximize productivity.

The PS770 WOW oven is also easily serviced in case of a system malfunction (which can become quite costly if you’re operating a busy pizza chain). The control compartment is designed for quick and easy access, and all electrical controls are door-mounted. This makes it easy for technicians to diagnose and repair any issues that might pop up, further minimizing downtime.

Papa John’s likely uses the PS770 WOW oven at many of their locations because it is specifically designed to cook their pizzas at the optimal speed of 4.5 minutes per belt. This ensures that their pizzas are consistently cooked to whatever standards Papa John’s has set and gets to the customer while still hot. The oven’s energy-saving capabilities also align with Papa John’s stated commitment to sustainability by reducing their environmental impact.

Price: $23,000

Related Post: Is it worth buying a wood fired pizza oven?

Papa John’s Also UsesThe PS970G Series Gas Pizza Oven

The Middleby Marshall PS970G Series gas oven is another popular choice for big pizza chains, including Papa John’s. This oven is designed to bake a wide range of products, including pizza, sandwiches, and cookies, at a lower temperature faster than traditional ovens. It uses patented vertical columns of hot air to move heat aerodynamically, ensuring even cooking and reducing the risk of burning.

One of the most significant advantages of the PS970G is its Energy Management System (EMS). This feature automatically reduces gas consumption, making it an energy-efficient option for a restaurant making pizza on an industrial scale. Just like the 770 WOW, the keypad display is programmed into an energy-saving mode, and an automatic “energy eye” saves gas when no pizzas are in the oven.

The PS970G’s design also complements Papa John’s unique fresh dough product, providing continuous “proofing” (although I would personally not consider this proofing if it’s already in the oven) and dough development throughout the baking cycle. The oven’s air curtains (or eyebrows) can be adjusted to different settings to prevent heat escaping into the rest of the building, which is a critical factor in a busy restaurant setting.

The oven components include an on/off switch and control panel, which allows you to adjust the bake time and temperature, as proper air flow from the entrance and exit sides. The oven’s conveyor moves the pizza through the oven, while crumb pans catch any debris that drops through the conveyor belt. The oven also has an air impingement finger that directs air in a controlled fashion to the product being baked through a patterned arrangement of extruded holes.

Price: $25,000

Papa John’s Also Uses The Middleby Marshall PS360GWB Pizza Oven

The Middleby Marshall PS360GWB Pizza Oven is another high-speed conveyor oven used by Papa John’s in its restaurants. This oven is known for its advanced “VAF impingement technology” and Energy Management System.

The VAF impingement technology uses a combination of high-velocity hot air and focused “impingement” to cook pizzas quickly and evenly. This ensures that every pizza that comes out of the oven has a crispy crust and toppings done according to Papa John’s specifications. Also, the Energy Management System reduces energy consumption by up to 35%, making it an cost-effective choice for a big pizza chain like Papa John’s restaurants.

Papa John’s likely chose this pizza oven for its energy efficiency more than anything else. The ability to cook pizzas quickly and evenly ensures that Papa John’s can maintain a consistent level of quality across their restaurants, while also reducing energy costs and minimizing their environmental impact. Cost and consistency are probably the two most important things for a major pizza chain serving (at times) thousands of customers per day.

Overall, the Middleby Marshall PS360GWB Pizza Oven is considered a top-of-the-line option for Papa John’s that combines advanced technology with energy efficiency to produce high-quality, consistent pizzas while downtime and maintenance. That said, it also costs nearly twice as much as the other options on this list, which might cause some Papa John’s owners to opt for an older less expensive model to cut overhead costs.

Price: $40,000

Papa John’s Pizza Cooking Instructions

Like most big pizza chains, Papa John’s uses a standardized process that ensures consistency and quality across all of its locations. The process begins with the dough, which is made fresh in each restaurant using high-quality flour, water, sugar, yeast, and vegetable oil. Once the dough is made, it is placed in a proofer to rise.

Next, the dough is stretched and sauce is added. According to Papa John’s, the sauce is made from vine-ripened tomatoes that are picked and packed within six hours. The tomatoes are then blended with a proprietary mix of spices and herbs to create their signature Papa John’s pizza sauce. The sauce is generally spread evenly across the dough, leaving a small border around the edge (this of course varies depending on your order).

After the sauce is added, cheese is sprinkled on top. Papa John’s claims to use 100% mozzarella cheese that is grated fresh daily in each restaurant. The cheese is spread evenly across the pizza, and then the toppings are added. Papa John’s offers a variety of toppings, including pepperoni, sausage, bacon, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, and pineapple—pretty much what you’d expect from any of the big pizza chains.

Once the toppings are added, the pizza is placed in one of the several oven models used by Papa John’s. The Middleby Marshall 770 WOW Pizza Oven is a high-speed conveyor oven that can cook a pizza in just a few minutes. This oven is ideal for busy locations with high volumes of orders. On the other hand, the PS970G Series is a versatile pizza oven that can cook a variety of different menu items, including pizzas, calzones, and sandwiches. It generally has a larger cooking surface than the 770 WOW, which makes it ideal for larger pizzas or multiple orders. Similarly, the Middleby Marshall PS360GWB “VAF impingement technology”, which ensures even cooking and precise control of the baking process. It also features an Energy Management System that helps reduce energy costs and promote sustainability.

That said, the cooking instructions for Papa John’s pizza vary slightly depending on the type of pizza being cooked and the oven being used—as well as by who is individually tasked with making your pizza. But, the basic process remains the same and involves preheating the oven to the appropriate temperature, placing the pizza in the oven, and cooking it for a specific amount of time. Papa John’s provides detailed cooking instructions for each type of pizza on its website and in its restaurants.

Papa John’s Pizza Ovens Compared: 770 WOW vs PS970FG vs PS360GWB Pizza Ovens

When comparing the three pizza ovens that Papa John’s uses, for the most part they are very similar, but there are several differences to consider.

Starting with the Middleby Marshall 770-WOW Pizza Oven, this oven is known for its speed and efficiency. It can cook a pizza in just under four minutes, making it a good choice for a restaurant with high-volume of pizza orders each day. The downside to this oven is that it has a smaller cooking chamber, which reduces how much can be cooked at once.

On the other hand, the PS970G Series Gas Pizza Oven is a more versatile option. It can cook a wide range of menu items, including pizzas, sandwiches, and even desserts. This oven is also easier to use than the 770-WOW Oven since it has a digital control panel and can be programmed with preset cooking times and temperatures.

Finally, the Middleby Marshall PS360GWB Pizza Oven is a slightly more advanced option that uses impingement technology to cook pizzas quickly and evenly. It also has an Energy Management System that reduces energy consumption, making it an environmentally-friendly choice and great at showcasing green company policies at work. However, this oven is more expensive than the other two options and may requires more maintenance.

Papa John’s Pizza Oven Features At A Glance:

FeaturesMiddleby Marshall 770 WOW Pizza OvenPS970G Series Gas Pizza OvenMiddleby Marshall PS360GWB Pizza Oven
Oven typeConveyorDeckConveyor
Cooking time2-3 minutes6-7 minutes6-7 minutes
Maximum temperature550°F550°F600°F
Cooking capacity80-100 pizzas per hour36 12-inch pizzas per hour70-80 pizzas per hour
Size and dimensions68”W x 52”D x 63”H78”W x 54.75”D x 65.5”H78.5”W x 55.5”D x 56.6”H
Unique features/technologyFastBake technologyEnergy Management SystemVAF impingement technology

Related Questions:

What temperature is Papa John’s pizza ovens?

Papa John’s claims to cook each pizza at 450F (232C), but if you search Reddit (or ask someone who works at Papa John’s), they will often give slightly different answers ranging from 440F to 500F. This likely has to do with idiosyncrasies of individual pizza ovens or even the temperature where the Papa John’s restaurant is located (cold vs hot climate. However, on average, it’s fair to say that Papa John’s cooks each pizza at about 450F.

Who owns Papa John’s?

Papa John’s was founded and owned primarily by John “Papa John” Schnatter, however as of 2020 Schnatter owned less than 16% of the company and has plans to sell his entire remaining shares. Today, Papa John’s is owned almost entirely by various institutional financial funds (81%) such as Blackrock Inc and T Rowe Price.

What’s the name of the pepper that Papa John’s gives you?

The wrinkly, yellowish orange hot pepper that Papa John’s gives you is called a pepperoncinis. This type of pepper is actually where the American term “pepperoni” comes from after early Italian immigrants to the US named their spicy sausage after the hot pepper they used to season it.

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