Each year, we mail out surveys to independent pizzerias across the nation. Using their responses, we compile our Hot 100 list — a ranking of America’s 100 largest independent pizza operations (based on sales). This issue is eagerly devoured by Pizza Today’s readers and the list you’ll see on pages 32 and 33 is a testament to the ingenuity, diligence and skill of the pizzeria owners who make the grade.
1. Buddy’s Pizza
Buddy’s first introduced its famous square pizza in 1946, sparking the unique Detroit-style pie. The pizzeria has grown to nine locations, generating $20 million in annual sales. Last year, the Motor City declared June 23 Buddy’s Pizza Day, honoring the restaurant’s history and its longstanding commitment to the community.
2. Marion’s Piazza
Marion Glass opened his Italian piazza-themed pizzeria in 1965, with an emphasis on large capacity seating. Marion’s has grown to eight locations. In 2012, the company grossed more than $16 million in annual sales. Marion’s has been voted Dayton’s Best Pizza in more than 30 local surverys.
3. Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi, Too!
The D’Ambrosio family opened the original pizzeria in 1958 in the Bay Area. Family-owned for more than 50 years, Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi, Too! earned $12.5 million in 2012, with its five stores. Co-owner John D’Ambrosio is a World Pizza Champion, garnering both “best pizza” and “pizza pioneer” in Salsomaggiore, Italy.
4. Glass Nickel Pizza Co.
Glass Nickel’s ecofriendly philosophy is found throughout its eight-unit, $13 million operation, from its LED lighting to its alternative fuel delivery vehicles. Owners Brian Glassel and Tim Nicholson opened their first pizzeria in 1997 and have grown with strong commitment to its neighborhoods and community.
5. The Original Giuseppi’s Pizza and Pasta
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Thriving in each of its six locations as neighborhood places, The Orginal Giuseppi’s has a “cut no corners” approach to pizza.
6. Woodstock’s Pizza
San Diego, California
What began as a fun hangout for college students at Oregon State University in 1977 has grown into an eight-unit, $12.2 million pizza company. The pizzeria prides itself on providing a lively pizza experience and a signature pizza sauce from a Woodstock family recipe. Today, Woodstock’s is owned by longtime employee Jeff Ambrose.
To View List of HOT 100 Independents Click Link Below
Photos By Josh Keown
We are expanding our restaurant from one to two locations. Our second location is three miles away from the first in a small town. We are very concerned about logistics relating to deliveries.
Do we divide the town or hope that some customers just call the second location?
Do you have any independent pizza shops in mind that have locations that close to give us advice? Or just advice in general?
Phelps Babe’s Pizza & Pasta
Hi Stephanie, your biggest challenge will be educating your town that there are now TWO Babe’s stores. For the first several months you will have customers who call your first location for a carryout and show up at the new store looking for their meal. It is going to happen. How your telephone people handle the calls will be paramount in sidestepping a big point of frustration for you and your customer. You will need to acquire the best city maps you can get for each store.
The next thing I would do is see if my POS computer provider could map out the delivery and alert the phone person that the delivery is in or out of delivery range. If the delivery is okay, proceed as normal. If the customer’s address is closer to the new store I would tell the ordering person that a much closer Babe’s is open to serve them better.
“May I give you their new phone number, or would it be better if I took your order and called it over to the new store?”
New flyers with both phone numbers will be in order. Refrigerator magnets with one phone number would be a very nice touch. Your biggest challenge will be training all phone employees to know every address in your town. They will know or have the tools necessary to determine in a few seconds if the incoming phone call has reached the proper store. I think creating delivery zones in your POS database will be the ticket.
Big Dave Ostrander owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and internationally sought-after trainer. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.
Here at Pizza Today, we constantly strive to be unique. Like the independent operators that read our magazine, we enjoy offering quality and excellence as opposed to the same drivel that is found elsewhere. One of the things that I believe makes us wholly unique in the publishing industry is our Slice of Hope initiative.
By the time you are reading this, I’ll be in Florida preparing to cycle with my publisher, Pete Lachapelle, my Art Director, Josh Keown, and a team of cyclists from Lakeland to Naples. We’ll ride around 60 miles per day for four straight days. When we reach our destination, we’ll take part in a major fundraising party that will benefit the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Last year, Slice of Hope raised a touch over $100,000. This year we’re looking to exceed that. The battle against breast cancer is a fight worth taking on, and I sincerely hope I can count on you to help us do it.
A friend of mine recently passed away. Her name was Jodi Aufdencamp, and you’ve probably read about her in past issues of Pizza Today. She and her husband, Jeff, founded Mama Mimi’s Take ‘N Bake Pizza in Columbus, Ohio. Jodi also was one of the original members of the Board of Directors for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation. Slice of Hope was a cause she wholeheartedly supported. When she lost her own personal fight with breast cancer and passed away less than two months ago on August 17, 2012, I vowed to ride this year’s Slice of Hope circuit in her honor and memory.
I’m not asking you to give until it hurts, but I am asking you to give. I’m asking you to donate a percentage of your sales from Friday, October 12 — the day we finish our ride into Naples — to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation. A pledge form can be found on our Web site, simply visit PizzaToday.com and click on the Slice of Hope tab. I’d be honored for you to join Pizza Today in this fight (read more on page 44).
Slice of Hope aside, the word unique was clearly on our minds when we worked on this issue. The Hot 100 independents (page 30) lists pizzerias with highly successful track records. They’ve each done something uniquely well in order to hit their mark. But we took it a step further and did a gorgeous spread on some of America’s most truly unique pizzerias. Turn to page 52 and enjoy an inside look at them, then ask yourself what measures you can take to set yourself apart from the competition.
Happily, given its history, the Red Onion sells itself. The Red Onion Saloon originally opened for business in 1898 at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, and was considered Skagway’s most exclusive bordello at the time. It was built by planks cut by Captain William Moore, the founder of Skagway, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. The town of Skagway served as the “Gateway to the Klondike” and plenty of randy miners passed through Skagway on their way North. The Red Onion served alcohol on the first floor, while the upper floor satisfied more than a prospector’s thirst. It was only a functioning brothel for two years before the Klondike gold rush waned and a new gold rush in Nome, Alaska, caused miners to seek their prospects elsewhere.
During World War II the building was used as barracks to board soldiers and in subsequent years housed a laundry, bakery, union hall, television station and gift shop. In 1980, the owner Jan Wrentmore purchased a liquor license and the building opened once more as a saloon and historic brothel museum, and it’s been rocking ever since!
We’ve named our pizzas after the well-known prostitutes of the Gold Rush, references of the trade, or women who have worked here... For example, I have a pizza named after me, ‘the Lady LaVoie’ it’s vegetarian with goat cheese, mushrooms and artichoke hearts, but you can make it a ‘Dirty LaVoie’ by adding sausage. Some others are the Plain Jane (cheese pizza), Shady Lady (BBQ chicken), the Chicken Ranch (ranch, bacon, red onion)…etc.
The Big Dessie and the The Classic are our best sellers. The Big Dessie (sausage, Canadian bacon and pepperoni) is all meat and The Classic (pepperoni). Meat serves us well here; we believe in meat.
The Red Onion Saloon has such a unique history and it’s hard not to feel it when you’re here. We have madams who give tours of the museum, sing and take photos with the guests. Our servers wear corsets so there is some bosom involved…We have musicians who come in and play –– the atmosphere is lively, sexy and teasing and there’s always someone up to something. We’re also very lucky to have a loyal and fun-loving crew. We have fun, we laugh, work hard and engage our customers in the process. We’re also a bit saucy.
(We operate from) April to October. The cruise ship season runs from May to September and it gets very very quiet on Skagway’s streets the other half of the year. The winter population shrinks dramatically and there is simply not enough business to sustain having more than one restaurant open in winter. Another issue we have, being a historic building, is a dramatic lack of insulation. We winterize the building in the offseason to protect pipes and such. There are parts of the walls you can see through, so add a 45 mph north wind and you really don’t want to be sipping your cocktail here mid-January.
Photos by Josh Keown
Here we are, October and National Pizza Month. It’s time to celebrate! For some operators the summer has been slow, but now that kids are back in school, pizza is back on the menu again for social and school functions, and home meals for families on the go. This is the month to begin promoting your pizzas for what they really are. Pizza represents a great meal value just as it is, but when combined with a side order of breadsticks and a little dipping sauce, it can make for a great dinner. And if you have a picky eater, don’t worry because pizza is one of those foods that you can tailor to everyone’s likes or dislikes. Just think about how many orders you’ve had for pizzas made with half pepperoni and half sausage.
To promote pizza this month, think about bundling your pizza with some of your other sides to create a meal presentation, such as with any large pizza, receive a free order of breadsticks, or substitute a simple dessert item for the breadsticks, like a free 10-inch dessert pizza or cinnamon breadsticks with the purchase of any large pizza. Promoted as a mealtime special, you just might put ideas into your customer’s minds.
October is also the “kick off” time for many of the televised fall sporting events so it might be harder to pull some people away from their TV sets, especially on that typically slow Monday night. If this is the case, we need to think about a Monday night game special; for example, after 7 p.m., order any large pizza and receive a free two-liter bottle of soft drink. This works well when tied in with local teams that are playing, or you might even think about promoting a post-game special (especially if you have dine in) after a local school sporting event.
October can also be a good time to celebrate National Pizza Month with a few special pizzas of your own creation. One of my own personal favorites at this time of the year is what I like to call my T-rex Pizza. This is nothing more than a four-eat pizza garnished with onion slices and fresh tomato, or tomato filets. If you don’t already have them in inventory, consider bringing in some steak strips for use on this pizza –– they’re really visual and make it scream meat!
Questions of the Month
Q: Is it possible to make a take-andbake pizza using my regular pizza dough?
A: Yes it is. In fact, most operators don’t use anything special for their take-and-bake pizza. We do recommend that you follow these suggestions when using your dough for take and bake pizza as it will give your dough the ability to withstand the time and temperature abuse your pizzas could potentially be exposed to once taken home by the consumer. If you manage your dough through the cooler, use it only after the first day of refrigerated storage. After removing the dough from the cooler, experiment to determine how soon you can begin opening the dough into pizza skins by your forming method. This is important as it allows you to keep the dough as cool as possible right up to the point of sale. Once the dough is opened into a pizza skin, place several skins on a wire screen using a piece of parchment paper and a light coating of spray oil between each skin to prevent them from sticking together. store the pre-opened skins in your cooler or under your prep table for ease of access. when an order is place for a take-and-bake pizza, just remove a skin from the stack and place it onto a cardboard pizza circle with a piece of parchment paper between the dough and the circle. Or, if you wish, you can use one of the several ovenable trays available for this application, then dress the skin to the order.
Note: If you didn’t lightly spray or brush the skins with oil when stacking them, it is suggested that you lightly brush the dough surface with oil prior to application of the sauce as this will help to prevent migration of moisture from the sauce into the dough while it is being held in the customer’s refrigerator, resulting in an unwanted gum line in the finished pizza. As soon as the pizza is dressed, wrap it in stretch film and place it into a box for ease of handling while it is being transported home by the consumer. Make sure you provide all required information with the pizza, including baking directions, a statement to bake the pizza soon after getting it home, and above all, don’t forget those most important words “KeeP reFrIgerATeD.”
Q: Does it make a difference if I add flour or water to my mixing bowl first?
A: yes it does. If you add the flour first, the mixing time is typically much longer than it is when you add the water first, and this translates into more wear and tear on your mixer. with most pizza doughs containing 52- to 58-percent absorption/water (based on the total flour weight) the mixing time is in the range of 10 to 12 minutes with the water added first; however, when the flour is added first, the mixing time, to get the same level of development, will average five to eight minutes longer. I’ve also noticed that with those who do add the water first, they also like to add the salt and sugar –– and sometimes the yeast –– into the water, and mix this for a couple of minutes. This really isn’t necessary, and it can save you a few minutes off of your total dough mixing time if you just add the water, then the flour and drop the salt and sugar on top of the flour.
Q: To settle an argument I’m having with a couple of my employees, can you tell me how long it takes a skilled person to cut, scale and ball a dough based on 50 pounds of flour?
A: To some extent, this will depend upon the scaling weight of the dough pieces. Using a scaling weight of 14 ounces, we have demonstrated to a group of students that two people can cut, scale and round a dough, based on 50 pounds of flour (about 83½ pounds of dough) in just over 12 minutes. This is averaging about eight pieces per minute, and I might add that we don’t do this all the time. Just think how much faster it could be done by a well-trained hardworking experienced crew of pizza professionals.
Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking Manhattan, Kansas.
NOW Open for Business!
Can you imagine a show floorlarger than five-and-a-half football fields with nothing butWRITTEN BY pizza-related supplies, Bill Oakley equipment and services? At Pizza Expo® you’ll be able to one-stop shop, @PizzaExpo sample and network
with your pizza peers from around the world. International Pizza Expo® – the “Show of Shows” for the Pizza Industry – is THE place to do business, learn, network and deal. Pizza Expo has grown from a humble start of 134 booths in Orlando, Florida, in 1984 to nearly 1,000 booths at our event next March.
Designed specifically for pizzeria owners and operators, there’s something for everyone at International Pizza Expo, whether you’re an industry veteran or just opening your first store.
Show Web Site Is Live!
The Web site for International Pizza Expo 2013, www.pizzaexpo.com, has been recently updated to let you know everything you need to know about attending or exhibiting.
Online Registration is Open
Book online and SAVE $10. Make plans NOW; Las Vegas will be bulging at the seams during the month of March with Pizza Expo, Spring Break, and several other events and trade shows all going on at the same time.
Housing is Open
We’ve negotiated special discounted rates with some of the finest hotels in Las Vegas through our official housing bureau, Expovision. Check out the Travel and Hotel page on our Web site for a list of hotel properties, rates and reservation instructions. Reserve online or, if you prefer, download a housing form to fax.
Do you want to find out how to position your pizzeria to outperform the competition? At next year’s show we’ll offer more on-target business boosting seminars and networking events than ever before. You’ll have the opportunity to choose from over 85 educational sessions and demonstrations, not to mention the two morning keynote addresses. Hot button topics such as social media marketing, menu design, employee motivation, dough do’s and don’ts, and many others will be thoroughly covered in our pizza focused seminars. Our Power Panels have been specifically designed to jump-start each and every seminar day. Some of the industry’s top operators will share their experiences on topics of near-universal interest. And on the final day of the show, the seminar rooms will be turned over to the “pizza pros” for All-Operator Thursday, where supersuccessful pizzeria operators will share insights and knowledge. If you’re looking for answers or need a few new ideas, attending International Pizza Expo will be the best investment of time and money you’ll make in 2013.
While on the Pizza Expo Web site please visit the Exhibit Hall to view a listing of all the exhibiting companies who will be at the show ready to deal. If they’re in the pizza business, then they’ll be at Pizza Expo offering great show specials and special discount pricing. At next year’s show you can expect to see nearly 450 exhibiting companies representing every facet of the pizza industry.
Looking to Exhibit? International Pizza Expo 2013 is more than 85 percent SOLD! If you haven’t reserved your booth space yet, NOW’s the time. Don’t get stuck on our waiting list, request your booth online by going to the Buy a Booth section or call Bobbie MacIntosh, Tradeshow Sales Manager, at (800) 489-8324.
If you still have questions after exploring www.pizzaexpo.com, then call us toll-free at the number above.
We mean business!
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You can also sound off at:
I have enjoyed the article on the calzone in your Pizza Today of July 2012.
The Calzone that I serve at my Mr. G’s Pizzeria are so famous because they are so unusual. every time a Calzone reaches a table, immediately there are flashes of cameras and phones, because they are so beautiful.
You can see one of them if you have time to go to my Web site www.gotomrgs.com and, whenever you have time, let me have your comments.
Keep up the good work!
Mr. G’s Pizzeria
Mr. G. — you’re right. They are beautiful! Keep up the good work.
HOT 100 INDEPENDENTS
When does your Hot 100 list come out and how do I get my pizzeria on it?
Actually, you’re too late this year, robby. sorry! Our Hot 100 list is published in the very issue you are currently holding in your hands. flip to page 32 to see it. e-mail your information to denise Greer (dgreer@ pizzatoday.com) and she’ll make sure you receive next year’s database mailing with the Hot 100 form.
SLICE OF HOPE SHIRTS
How do I order slice of Hope t-shirts?
It’s easy, Julie. They are available in unisex black or women’s cut pink, and they’re only $10 each. The profits go to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer foundation. To order, simply visit www.pizzatoday.com/sliceofhope. Thanks for your support!
Photos by Rick Daugherty
Last year, Slice of Hope raised a little over $100,000 for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity that takes your tax-deductible donations and uses them to fund the most promising research on the disease that exists today. The initiative was so successful that we’re doing it once again this month in celebration of National Pizza Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
On Tuesday, October 9 a team of Pizza Today cyclists will depart Lakeland, Florida, for a 250-mile bike ride designed to bring awareness to the cause. The bikers will ride 60 miles per day for four consecutive days, stopping each night to take part in fundraising pizza parties. Last year, more than 200 pizzerias pledged to support Slice of Hope by donating a percentage of their sales on National Pizza Day. Many of the pizzerias that did take part wrote or called us afterwards to tell us just how successful the event had been for them. It seems the Slice of Hope push not only united pizzerias to fight a just cause, but it also established participating pizzerias as community stewards that could be counted on to support their customers through thick and thin. Shari Buccilli, owner of Buccilli’s Pizza in Clare, Michigan, says: [Slice of Hope was a great success] here at my restaurant. We had been advertising for roughly three weeks and the turnout that our community showed was tremendous! On behalf of my employees and myself, I want to say thank you ... for coming up with this wonderful idea. We had a great time and our community here in Clare, Michigan, showed how supportive they are by making
Slice of Hope a success. Once again, thank you and we look forward to doing it again!”
Vincent Caltagirone, owner of Golden Crust Pizza in Pennsylvania, says that “We had a great night despite a power outage for about an hour. We managed to raise over $500 towards this deadly disease through our participation in Slice of Hope. The servers worked very hard ot help raise the money for this event. We even had a few of our customers make personal donations — and on top of that we all had fun doing it for the Foundation and Pizza Today!”
For at least one operator, Slice of Hope hit close to home. “One of our employees, Marie, was diagnosed with breast cancer several months ago,” says Tony Mellencamp, owner of East of Chicago Pizza Company in Berne, Indiana. “We gave part of our earnings on October 7, 2011 to her for medical bills. She and her family helped wait tables that night and also raised funds in a tip jar. Marie wore her headscarf, as she has lost her hair due to chemo. But she and her family maintain a strong dignity as they fight against her cancer. Marie was right there, working alongside everyone else. “Thanks to Slice of Hope for bringing awareness to this dreaded disease. Hopefully with help like your campaign from Pizza Today, a cure can be found for breast cancer.”
Unfortunately, we later found out that Marie did not survive her battle with breast cancer. Thankfully, the sister of Randy Henson, a pizzeria owner from Huntsville, Ohio, has survived. “Just wanted to pass along our thanks for sponsoring this event,” Henson wrote in an e-mail to Pizza Today editor-in-chief Jeremy White. “We here at LaPizzeria Restaurant are happy to say that we were able to raise approximately $1,000 for the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation. My lead waitress, who is also my sister, is a breast cancer survivor of two years.”
Stories like Henson’s have poured in ever since we first announced Slice of Hope in 2011. And they’ve motivated people like Kelly Musico, co-owner of Aldo’s Ristorante in Naples, Florida, to take action. Musico is hosting the “grand finale” Slice of Hope party after the cyclists pull into her pizzeria on
October 12. The cyclists, who will receive a police escort for the last 20 miles, will be greeted at Aldo’s by a local high school marching band and cheerleaders.
“Last year, when I heard about Slice of Hope, I immediately wanted to participate,” says Musico. “We pledged to donate 30 percent of our sales from the day. As the event neared, my staff and customers wanted to participate, too. People were donating restaurant gift certificates, golf packages, wine packages, hotel stays, gym memberships, spa packages — the list goes on. We went all-out and decorated the restaurant pink and put together some beautiful baskets to auction off. We sold raffle tickets and raised even more money. It was so rewarding to have the community come together. I am so honored to be hosting the national event in Naples this year.”
Following Musico’s lead is simple. Start by visiting PizzaToday.com and clicking on the Slice of Hope tab. Order t-shirts, make a direct gift to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation or pledge a percentage of October 12 sales to the Foundation through Slice of Hope. Even if you can’t take part by throwing your own fundraising party on October 12 or can’t give a portion of sales from that particular day, the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation can take your donations year-round. Show your support by visiting EndThisDisease.org and clicking on the “Donate” button.
The goal is not only to fight an invasive disease, but to do so together as one united industry comprised of caring and giving independent pizza parlors. Pizza Today believes our segment is the most community-minded of all foodservice sectors! Let’s rally together this month to prove it.
Photos by Josh Keown
I could hardly believe my eyes when I recently saw a disturbing question posted on a professional pizza industry forum. It was something to the tune of “I want my pizza to be just like the big chains, does anyone have their dough recipes?” No, it wasn’t a joke; this person really wanted to blend in with the noise rather than stick out from the crowd. I understand the attraction of following a proven formula, but are you really satisfied with fulfilling someone else’s concept? Deciding to be different isn’t the easy route, but it has the potential to ignite something new and fresh. Here are some ways I see pizzerias succeed in being unique:
Break the rules. The big trend right now is the quest for “authenticity.” Everybody thinks they’re making a quality product just because they’ve imported flour, mozzarella di bufala, tomatoes and even ovens directly from Naples. Sure you can make a great pie with those ingredients, but blindly adhering to a list of directives can stifle creativity by taking you out of the equation. Some of my favorite pizzerias right now are the ones that do something nobody else tries to do. Paulie Gee’s had a pizza with cherries and honey, something you won’t find in Naples. It’s incredible and sometimes I go there just to get it. Then there’s Speedy Romeo, my new favorite neighborhood spot that created a modification of a St. Louis-style pizza that represents the city’s only user of Provel cheese. These places are great and garner a lot of attention for being different.
Stay focused. I love it when I walk into a pizzeria and immediately sense a singular vibe. The music matches the décor matches the staff matches the food and I’m instantly transported into a new world. The most unique pizzerias design their atmosphere with intention rather than trying to be something for everyone. Roberta’s in Brooklyn does this easily because the owners are peers of their clientele. Every decision was made with a common purpose and design goal and that comes across effortlessly. Even the quirky pizza names (Charles in Chard, Fennel Frontier) are on point with the restaurant’s focused image.
Be yourself. I recently met a prospective restaurateur who was training at a pizzeria in New York. He’s a real unique guy with lots of character, so I was disheartened when he showed me a list of potential restaurant names. Most were typical Italian references but he wasn’t planning on making 100-percent typical Neapolitan pizza. I urged him to stick with something that represented his personality because he would never have to explain the name to anybody if it fit his personal style as owner-operator-pizzaiolo. It’s impossible to stick out from the crowd when you’re masking yourself with camouflage.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with following a proven model, but I get so much more excited when pizzerias push the envelope. Some folks are afraid of being too different because it might confuse the customer base, but the best way to stay out of the middle of the road is by steering more dangerously.
Scott Wiener owns and operates Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York City.
Photo by Josh Keown
A photo of a recently deceased friend was posted on a social network. As people commented several words kept reoccurring; beautiful, confident, intelligent. That photo was powerful; it evoked memories and emotions. Though we view things in varying ways, all of us have emotional responses to the things around us. A picture can convey intense emotion, or even a complete thought or feeling.
Danie J Boorstin, the renowned social historian, once said that “an image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan or an easily remembered picture. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service.”
As marketers, we reckon with the power of imagery. A seminar I attended talked about the use of images in menus. The example was given of a Midwestern rib establishment that used a photo of ribs, taken with a cheap camera, on its menu. The picture was awful, but sales of ribs rose. Was this a coincidence? No, because we eat with our eyes.
Consequently, when deciding what to eat the eyes play an imperative role. Our appetite is more about cravings than need. It’s based primarily on a craving to satisfy our senses versus a hunger for the necessary. Your imagery should provoke desire, the better your imagery the more intense the desire becomes and the more likely you are to achieve the desired sales. When the Midwest restaurateur replaced his amateurish rib snapshot with a professional image, sales of ribs skyrocketed.
We perceive that because people are visual they are naturally drawn to image-based platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. Text is becoming obsolete as 60 percent of images uploaded are food related. I attest to this when customers call and request the menu item pictured. Further proof is my dine-in sales growth of two percent since the installation of a digital menu board.
Pizzerias must be very careful to see that food is appealingly presented in all marketing materials, including online venues. Many operators can’t afford to hire a world-class photographer, but there are other resources. Opt for a marketing design company that has a respectable library of pizza specific images. When searching for the perfect picture for menus, postcards or Web sites, think of single words that convey your message accurately. Words such as “family”, “freshness”, or “authentic”can make a real impact. You may also search online stock photography companies for images. While not a quick and easy task, it’s one that pays off.
Take note to use consistent images, conveying a standard with minimal variation, throughout your marketing. This builds and reinforces your brand. Ignoring it will lead to a disconnect with your brand and message. When I incorporated this concept, sales rose 14 percent and more than doubled profits. I captivated emotions and motivated people to buy.
Beware of pride — it comes before a fall. Those who feel they can just snap a photo or have an amateur photography enthusiast do it don’t attain their full marketing potential. Food photography is an art. It requires special lighting, angling and props. This type of art will build desire, persuade and inspire.
Scott Anthony is a Fox’s Pizza Den franchisee in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.
At Buddy’s Pizza, we are as dedicated to serving up delicious Detroit-style square pizzas today as we were when our original location opened back in 1946. More than 66 years later, our nine family-owned pizzerias have stayed true to the recipes that have made Buddy’s Pizza a household name.
We are known near and far for crafting the nation’s first square pizza, for soups made from scratch, and for our celebrated antipasto salad topped with a dressing of fresh herbs and ingredients that’s as much a part of our history as our pizza. As we prepare to celebrate National Pizza Month, we’re looking back at what has changed over the decades, as well as where we’re headed.
Over the years we have added a variety of items to our menu to embrace our customers changing health needs and requests. Today, alongside Buddy’s famous crust, you’ll find gluten-free and multi-grain options. In addition to our original sauce, we offer tomato basil sauce.
Cheese pizza has a whole new meaning, too. Customers may choose from our traditional brick cheese to our special Motor City Cheese Blend to a casein-free Vegan option to suit any dietary or health restriction.
We offer fresh homemade pastas, our signature Robby burgers, delicious sandwiches, salads and more –– all prepared with the freshest ingredients and an acute attention to detail.
We are just as committed to serving our surrounding communities as we are to serving up the very best food. Over the past 36 years, our employees have helped raise more than $2.5 million dollars to support Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen during our company- wide annual Slice for Life benefit program. We also actively support the American Red Cross, March of Dimes, Karmanos Cancer Institute, the College of Creative Studies, the Catholic Youth League and a variety of other national and Detroit-based charities.
Last year the city of Detroit designated June 23 as Buddy’s Pizza Day in Detroit. We chose that moment as a time to give back to the city that has helped us establish our strong roots. We launched our Motor City Pizza Collection, featuring pizzas named after four of Detroit’s most treasured cultural institutions:
The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Detroit Zoo, The Henry Ford and The Parade Company. A portion of the proceeds of each Motor City-themed pizza sold was later donated back to its designated cultural institution.
At the same time, Detroit’s own Kid Rock granted Buddy’s Pizza the opportunity to break boundaries in creating a pizza containing his own beer –– Badass Beer –– in our signature crust. It was the merging of two Detroit icons into the Kid Rock’s Badass Detroiter Pizza.
More than a Detroit- based business, we have always viewed ourselves as a made-in- Michigan company. That’s what led us to create the new, Made in Michigan Great Lakes Pizza Collection –– five new pizzas modeled after Michigan’s freshwater lakes. For each of these pizzas sold until December 31, a portion will be donated to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a non-profit that works to preserve Michigan’s greatest resource for future generations.
We work in the pizza industry, where our square pies are consumed in a meal’s time. But our efforts have always served to accomplish something lasting in Southeast Michigan. It’s something that will mean so much more to our employees and to our customers, many of whom have grown with us through the years and become part of our extended Buddy’s Pizza family.
Photos by Josh Keown
National Pizza Month Pizza Challenge: We asked pizzeria operators to give us their best pizza recipes to celebrate National Pizza Month in October. We received recipes from across the North America. These are our interpretations of the best of the best.
Italian Club Pizza
Two Guys and A Pizza Place
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Two Guys uses a classic dough recipe from Italy believed to be from the 19th century as the base for their pizza. A basil pesto base is topped with provolone and hot capicollo. Next, sprinkle the pizza with a mozzerella/ cheddar / Monterey mixture. Top with pancetta and red onion and bake. Once cooked, top with a fresh mixture of tomatoes and baby arugula. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan petals (a little goes a long way!) and drizzle with a balsamic glaze. The spicy meats and sweet glaze are a perfect complement.
Loaded Baked Potato Pizza
Mia’s Pizza and Eats
This pizza combines two comfort foods and is a departure from the everyday pepperoni. Start with a mashed potato base made with fresh potatoes, heavy cream, butter and salt. Add fresh broccoli, bacon, red onions and cheddar cheese. To finish, you can even drizzle the pizza with a Mexican crema over the top. This is a great winter recipe!
The Royal Family
Willy O’s Pizza & Grille
South Haven, Michigan
This was a winner in a local contest held by Willy O’s, and we love the addition of Cajun-seasoned chicken. Willy O’s uses a gluten-free crust with this pizza, but a traditional crust can also be used. Start with a basil, garlic and lemon pesto. Slice a grilled chicken breast and toss with Cajun seasoning. Place chicken on pizza and top with julienne-cut green peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, Feta cheese and a mozzarella/ provolone blend. Bake and serve.
Aldos Ristorante Italiano & Bar
We love the freshness of this pizza, and it uses a lot of toppings already found in most pizzerias. Brush a dough skin with extra virgin olive oil and fresh garlic. Top with mozzarella and reggiano cheeses and bake. Toss fresh arugula with shaved red onions, Campari tomatoes, fresh lemon juice and EVOO. Top the pizza with the salad mixture, dollops of ricotta cheese and serve immediately.
Rosario’s Italian Restaurant
The base for this pizza is housemade ricotta, topped with prosciutto, mushrooms, caramelized onions, Parmesan cheese and sprinkled with fresh arugula. While you can caramelize onions the traditional way with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, rosario’s uses Dr. Pepper, which imparts a unique flavor to the onions. Brilliant!
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Brick Oven // #53 @BrickOvenAustin Come by Red River for our daily happy hour! From 3-6, $2 off draft beer and wines by-the-glass!
Why it works: Posting your daily happy hour has two advantages: it puts the idea into customers’ minds that happy hour is a great idea, plus it encourages them to come early before the dinner rush. And since most folks don’t stop by a pizzeria without ordering food, you’re sure to pad your check totals above and beyond the discount on drinks.
BoomBozz // #17 @boombozz
1pm Today! Westport Village, Frankfort Avenue and Highlands location are each giving away 50 FREE new Chicken Sausage & Peppadew peppers
Why it works: To celebrate its anniversary, BoomBozz gave away 50 free pizzas. The result? Lots of buzz and grateful and happy guests retweeted and posted photos of their pizzas. It also encouraged folks to try their new menu offering, and that encourages repeat business. And since these locations are in different parts of town, it created citywide attention.
FACEBOOK PIZZA FEEDS
Pizza Rita // #79 Five
Pound Challenge- Pig Out in the Park! Fri. 5PM 25.00 to enter, everyone gets a T-shirt. $50 CASH Prize! CALL Brian at 953-1486 to enter!
Why it works: We love eating challenges. Not only are they good, not-soclean fun, but they also generate revenue and a sense of competition. Pizza
Rita’s entry fee included a t-shirt, which makes participants walking billboards long after the event is over.
Fat Jack’s Pizza // #29 Stop in and grab a TAKE and BAKE pizza today! Your favorite Fat Jack’s Pizza frozen and ready to take home for you to bake anytime you want. Available in 12” Pepperoni, Pepperoni Mushroom, Pepperoni Sausage, Pepperoni Sausage Mushroom Onion Green Pepper. Available in all 3 locations carryouts.
Why it works: Take and bake is a great addition to your pizzeria, but you’ve got to do it right. Letting your customers know you offer it before they walk in will encourage carryout orders. Train your employees to let in-house customers know as well, and use table tents. You’ve got all your bases covered!
Photos by Rick Daugherty, Denise Greer & Josh Keown
As you might imagine, we interact with a variety of pizza operations on a daily basis. We deal with large chains and small independents alike, and their individual stories never cease to fascinate us. Each pizzeria is unique in its own right. To that end, we set out to find some of America’s most unique pizzeria locations. We weren’t necessarily looking for a unique theme as much as we sought out a truly unique location or building. What we found was fascinating, and ranges from pizzerias inside old covered bridges to junkyards turned pizzeria –– and we visited each one.
Take a look for yourself.
Jail House Pizza
Built in 1906, the old Meade County, Kentucky, jail is the site of this original –– and reportedly haunted ––pizzeria. Guests can dine in padlocked cells (womens’ downstairs and men upstairs) or in the adjacent dining room, which overlooks the Ohio River. Not to be missed? The trapdoor used for hangings.
Organ Stop Pizza
Nothing goes with pizza like “The Phantom of the Opera” or the Star Wars theme song. At Organ Stop Pizza, the organist makes a grand entrance every evening — he suddenly appears from below the stage and fills the restaurant with sound as diners enjoy the fare. Talk about unique!
This is not your average burgers and fries drive-in. When Al, Gus and Arthur Peroulas opened Pizza Palace in 1961, they came up with the idea of serving pizza and Italian fare to customers in the comfort of their cars. It worked. The drive-in has become a Knoxville landmark. It’s also been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.
Some people love race cars, others love quilts and some just love plain old “junk.” The coolest junkyard in America — and one of the coolest pizzerias — is a favorite Gainesville hotspot.
Signal Station Pizza
Located in a historic gas station, this pizzeria is truly a local spot. The garage doors open up for al fresco dining, and the small interior leaves just enough room for a conveyor oven, a few taps of local beer, a counter for ice cream and a makeline. It’s at night — with its retro neon — when this pizzeria really shines!
Puccini’s Hometown Grille
Cumberland Gap, MD
This wood-fired pizzeria is situated in the historic 1818 Hinkle House. The residence served as a Civil War Hospital during the Battle at Folck’s Mill. Venturing up to the restaurant’s third floor attic, visitors can see etchings in the plaster on the walls from wounded Union and Confederate soldiers.
Sheboygan Falls, WI
Like many old buildings in small towns, Firehouse Pizza has been a number of things, including an elementary school, factories for carriages and cheese equipment and an auto supply store. It was also once the town’s city hall, police department and fire station, for which it takes its current appearance. It kept the theme of a bicycle shop when it expanded into the business next door.
Pizza might just be a spiritual experience at this pizzeria in a remodeled Jewish temple. The original stained glass windows and loft chandeliers illuminate its interior. The bar sits in the former Pulpit area. The Gothic brick structure was built in 1891 and served as a Presbyterian church, synagogue, social hall and school before Joe Bologne’s opened in 1989.
Covered Bridge Pizza
Patrons eat inside an authentic 1862 covered bridge at this pizzeria in Andover, Ohio — one of two bridge parlors the pizza company owns. The 126-foot, 55-ton Forman Road Covered Bridge was cut in half and reassembled into the two pizza parlor locations — North Kingsville in 1975 and Andover in 1977. Only the original wood was used in the creation of the dining rooms, giving customers an old-fashioned dining experience.
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