February 08, 2012
Win an iPad 2!
International Pizza Expo organizers have just announced a social media contest for pizzeria owners and employees. Leading up to International Pizza Expo 2012 in Las Vegas, March 11-13, show organizers say they will give away three iPad 2 tablet devices. Entrants are not required to be present at the industry tradeshow to win. (A fourth device will be given away during the show, however).
Entering the contest couldn’t be easier. Simply “Like” Pizza Expo on Facebook and then share its current status for your chance to win. Also, for another chance, Follow Pizza Expo on Twitter (@pizzaexpo) and retweet one of its Tweets.
Target Specialty Groups
Some of the more successful promotions tend to target select groups of people as opposed to the general population. Think of an “early bird buffet” ad targeting senior citizens, for example. Or a Monday Night Football beer and pizza special aimed at men.
Still, those are somewhat nondescript in the grand scheme of things. Here, we’re talking about getting really specialized, like tailoring a message to book clubs or cyclists, for example.
In Kansas City, Spin! Neapolitan Pizza lures cyclists in by organizing weekly bike rides. At Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company in North Carolina, owner Mike Rangel has had success targeting home brewers. This seems as niche as it can get, right? Yet, Rangel manges to attract nearly 80 guests per month with this approach. Take your average guest check times 80, and it adds up, doesn’t it?
Rangel started out slowly. Initially, he reached out to one small group and offered it a special, 15 percent discount as well as free meeting space in his pizzeria. Fewer than 10 people showed up at the first meeting, but Rangel stuck with the program and gave it time to develop.
“The best thing is that the homebrewers return the rest of the month with their families and friends,” Rangel says.To read Rangel’s first-hand account of building this program from the bottom up, click here.
Carryout Service Smarts
Takeout areas within a pizzeria have one purpose: to get the customer his food and get him out the door as efficiently as possible. And while the kitchen plays a role in that, guest service is the main thing customers will remember.
“For many of our to-go guests, the only person they speak with at our restaurant is the person at the takeout counter,” says Teresa Corea-Golka, owner of Roma D’Italia.
Here are some tips on making your carryout counter a well-oiled machine:
• Build Relationships — When the dining area isn’t busy, encourage waitstaff or hosts to greet and talk to carryout customers. “To me, there’s nothing better than watching one of our hostesses chat with a customer waiting for a takeout order,” Corea-Golka says. “We want to get to know our customers so the next generation continues to dine with us as well.”
• Share the Waiting Game — Though Brixx Wood-Fired Pizza in Charlotte, North Carolina, doesn’t keep a specific person on the carryout counter, operator Eric Horsley says every employee in the restaurant understands they all share the responsibility for making sure every guest is happy. “We want to make sure our guests are greeted within a 30-second window, and every member of our staff knows it’s their responsibility to go up and greet a customer if they’re not in the middle of helping someone else.”
While conducting research for an article he’s writing for the March issue of Pizza Today, freelance writer Daniel Smith ran into Tony DiSilvestro, owner of YNot pizzeria. DiSilvestro says he paid $14,000 for a new refrigerated display case to house homemade gelato — a purchase that paid for itself within 18 months. Still, the pizza shop owner acknowledges such a hefty initial cost limits many from buying new display cases.
While an abundance of manufacturers produce new, high-quality display cases worth a look, DiSilvestro says a vibrant used market exists both online and in restaurant supply stores.
“I wouldn’t hesitate looking for a used case, especially if you’re giving this idea a trial run,” DiSilvestro told Smith for his article in Pizza Today.
Likewise, Adam Goldberg pursues nontraditional purchasing.
Seeking custom cases for his Los Angeles-based pizza company, Fresh Brothers, Goldberg employs a local tradesman who makes glass doors for showers. With Goldberg serving as the designer and handing measurements directly to the glasscutter, he bypasses a traditional manufacturer’s design fees and receives his custom case at about one-quarter the cost.
Featured Recipe — Jerk Chicken Wings
Chicken wings remain one of the top-selling appetizers in pizzerias nationwide. This recipe offers a nice twist on traditional Buffalo-style wings, giving your customers a new way to experience an old favorite.
Jerk Chicken Wings
24 chicken wings, tips cut off, halved at the joint
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt