Think you know Pizza Expo?

Think again –– show pulling out all the stops for its 30th anniversary

Pizza Expo 2014 Rockin_audienceIn case you’ve been living under a rock –– or stuck in a kitchen –– there’s a little event happening next month called International Pizza Expo. It’s actually not so little. 2014 is set to be the biggest show ever, with more than 1,050 booths, 450 exhibiting companies, 95-plus seminars and workshops and more chances than ever to win big.

Now in its 30th year, Pizza Expo officials are bringing innovation and excitement to the 2014 show with some hot new experiences for attendees.

“Pizza Expo –– 30 years old and still attracting more exhibitors and attendees than ever before is incredible …or is it?” says Pete Lachapelle, publisher of Pizza Today and president of Macfadden Protech, which owns the Pizza Expo and Pizza Today brands. “The enthusiasm within the pizzeria industry is like no other I’ve ever seen. Thousands and thousands of pizzeria operators walk the show floor and attend the seminars, demonstrations and competitions as if it were opening day at Disney World.

Pizza Expo 2014ChefFinal_1589“Over the years, we have created an atmosphere of pizzeria operators sharing their experiences, best business practices and solutions with one another. Many, many times I’ve witnessed folks sharing critical information right in the middle of the aisles …forging lifelong friendships and even partnerships. Thousands of pizzeria operators return every year as if it were homecoming.

Whether visitors are attending their first-ever show or have been returning for decades, “this year we’re pulling out all the stops to make sure International Pizza Expo’s 30th show is the biggest and best show ever,” says Bill Oakley, vice president for Macfadden Protech. “In fact, I’m pleased to announce that this will be the largest show ever in our history with more than 1,050 booths of pizza-related goods, equipment and services. International Pizza Expo — the “Show of Shows” for the Pizza Industry — is THE place to do business, learn, network and deal.”

“New Operator Monday,” March 24, has become such a success that the day was officially added to the Pizza Expo calendar. Registered attendees will be able to attend seminars geared toward the fledgling operator.

A power panel led by Lachapelle kicks off Monday programming and will include information from several of the magazine’s Independent Pizzeria of the Year recipients. “The one thing they have in common, besides pizza, is the fact that they all have pizzerias that average more than $1 million in gross annual sales per unit,” Oakley says.

Pizza Expo 2014 DSC_0489
Monday Programming
New Operators, plus Monday
Pizzeria Concept Showcase

New-Operator Sessions range from branding and marketing to common mistakes and how to avoid them. They begin at 1:45 p.m. on March 24.

New this year is the Pizzeria Concept Showcase, available to both new operators and experienced operators ready to take the step toward growth. Several of the nation’s top operators will offer their expertise and field questions about building success. The showcase starts at 1:45 p.m. and runs through 5:30 p.m.

At 6 p.m., network with other pizzeria operators and vendors –– and meet the staff of Pizza Today and Pizza Expo –– at the free New Operator and Early-Arriving Attendee Reception.

Pizza Expo 2014 Donatella crop
Keynote: Donatella Arpaia
Food Network Celebrity
and Restaurateur

The Keynote addresses are always powerful and informative, and this year is no exception. Donatella Arpaia, a judge for Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and “The Next Iron Chef,” will offer a wealth of knowledge garnered from owning and operating eight restaurants, including the NYC pizzeria that bears her name, Donatella, on Tuesday, March, 25th at 7:45 a.m.

On Wednesday, March 26, “The Pizza Cuz” will address attendees during the second keynote speech. Sal Basile and Francis Garcia, owners of Artichoke Pizzeria in NYC, have traveled across the country visiting dozens of pizzerias in their Cooking Channel show.

Pizza Expo 2014 Pizza_Cuz
Keynote: Sal Basile & Francis Garcia
Cooking Channel Hosts and Pizzaioli

On Thursday, March 27, industry expert Big Dave Ostrander will offer a new morning seminar. This one, titled “Big Dave’s List of 30 Secrets to Pizzeria Success,” will take a look at some of the best lessons Ostrander has learned while consulting for hundreds of pizzerias during more than three decades in the industry. At the end of the 7:45 a.m. session, a drawing will be held for a free two-day on-site consultation with Ostrander. It is free for registered attendees.

To celebrate Pizza Expo’s 30th year, a huge Birthday Bash will be held on Wednesday, March 26 at 5 p.m. The Block Party will include live music, specialty food booths and craft beer,
entertainment, cocktails, games and contests. It will also cap off the finals of the World Pizza Games Freestyle Dough-Tossing competition.

On the educational tract, attendees will have their choice of more than 90 seminars, panel discussions and demonstrations from which to choose.

“The one thing that really separates International Pizza Expo from all of the other general foodservice shows is our educational component, which we’re expanding again this year,” Oakley says. “There’s not another food show around where you’ll find 90-plus business-boosting seminars, demonstrations and workshops seminars devoted to single industry except International Pizza Expo. In fact, I like to think our pizza focused seminars and demonstrations alone are worth the price of admission.”

While many returning speakers will offer their insight for new attendees, Oakley says there are several new speakers at this year’s show, including:

  • Ann Handley and Shelly DeMotte Krammer. Handley is the chief content officer for MarketingProfs.com, which provides business marketing know-how, and is co-author of a bestselling book on content marketing. Krammer is an integrated marketing business strategist, digital marketer, content creator, and self-confessed social media geek. They’ll discuss content marketing for pizzerias.
  • G. K. Mangelson, an expert in the areas of tax reduction and lawsuit protection, has authored several publications on the subject. Mangelson will share with the latest cutting edge strategies on tax reduction and will host a presentation on labor law.
  • Mathew Mandeltort, a managing consultant for Technomic, Inc., has worked with a large number of restaurants and pizzerias, as well as Top 500 companies, providing industry insight and analysis in customer service, guest satisfaction, brand positioning, marketing and strategic analysis. He’ll talk about menu trends and how to read your own data.
  • Author and branding expert Karen Post has traveled the world empowering restaurants and other businesses, with tools to build stronger, more distinct and relevant brands, so they become “brands of choice.” Post is a high-energy speaker who will address pizzeria branding and re-branding.
  • Micah Solomon, consultant and bestselling business author, is known for his ability to transform business results and build true customer engagement and loyalty. Solomon has been named by the Financial Post as the “New Guru of Customer Service Excellence.” He’ll deliver sessions on service and profitability and on making high-tech service high-touch.
  • Jan Ferri-Reed, a seasoned consultant and the president of KEYGroup, has worked with restaurateurs to create workplaces that attract, retain and get the most from their talent. Her Pizza Expo seminars will focus on employee management and leadership.
  • Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association, will share the principles of craft beer sales and craft beer and food pairings in her Craft Beer 2.0 session.
  • David Scott Peters, founder of TheRestaurantExpert.com, teaches independent restaurant owners how to succeed in the restaurant industry using the same systems the chains use. Peters will show attendees seven ways to reduce labor costs.

Pizza Expo hosted a craft beer pavilion last year to answer the growing correlation between pizza and brew. This year’s pavilion will include samples and info from even more breweries across the country.

“In addition, craft beer will be the topic of panel discussions on Wednesday, March 26,” Oakley says. “One session will be devoted to the subject of building a profitable craft beer program. The second will feature comments from pizza brewpub operators on how to combine brewing and pizza making under one roof.”

On the competition side, the International Pizza Challenge returns with five divisions. Return categories include:

  • Traditional –– red sauce with no more than two toppings from an approved list of ingredients (60 entrants)
  • Non-traditional –– no restrictions on dough, sauce or toppings (60 entrants)
  • American-Pan –– styles include: Chicago, Detroit, Grandma, Ohio Valley, Old Forge and Sicilian (16 entrants)
  • Italian-Style –– Classic, Neapolitan and Roman (20 entrants)

Winners from regional heats will compete against one another for division titles, and on Thursday, March 27, overall title winners will compete in the blind-box Pizza Maker of the Year finals.

New to the challenge this year is a gluten-free division. Competitors may use any combination of sauces and ingredients, but all must be gluten free. Only 12 spots are available in this category.

Pizza Expo 2014 WPG_kid_A6235The World Pizza Games returns with six divisions: freestyle acrobatics (first and masters divisions) fastest dough, largest stretch, fastest box-folding and the pizza triathlon (testing competitors’ box-folding skills, dough tossing and stretching skills).

At the end of the show, a winning game piece will be pulled for the $20,000 MEGA BUCKS GIVEAWAY. Attendees must be present to win.

“After 30 years, International Pizza Expo is the largest pizzeria-related event in the world and it’s still growing,” Lachapelle says. “The allure is that whether you’re a first time-attendee or one of the many that return year after year, there’s always something new (and) there’s always more to learn. New business solutions and profit-making opportunities are developed and presented every year.”

Pizza Expo 2014 seminar_A5737Hands-on learning

New to Pizza Expo is the School of Pizzeria Management, which offers in-depth educational opportunities on Sunday and Monday, March 23-24. Several pre-show workshops will be offered (additional costs apply) in small-group sessions with some of the industry’s top operators and experts.

Sunday workshops include:

  • Profit in Your Numbers, Part 1: FoodCost Pro with Big Dave Ostrander
  • Growth and Expansion, Part 1: Opening Your Pizzeria — When and How with Dan Collier and Glenn Cybulski
  • Employee Solutions: Hiring, Training and Team Building, Part 1: Tools for Recruiting, Interviewing and Fact-Finding with Ann Farrell and Michael Shepherd

Monday workshops include:

  • Profits in Your Numbers, Part 2: Essential Business Skills for Restaurant Owners with Jim Laube
  • Growth and Expansion, Part 2: Operations Manuals with Collier and Cybulski
  • Employee Solutions: Hiring, Training and Team Building, Part 2: Training and Managing Your Staff with Farrell and Shepherd
  • So You Want to Open a Pizzeria with Ostrander
  • A Custom 6-month Sales-Building Plan for Your Pizzeria with Joel Cohen

“Attend both Part 1 and Part 2 and receive a certificate of completion in one of three areas: Profits in Your Numbers, Growth and Expansion or Employee Solutions,” says Bill Oakley, vice president for Macfadden Protech, parent company to International Pizza Expo and Pizza Today.

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