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Domino's Pizza named Chain of the Year
For the second consecutive year, Pizza Today has announced that Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Domino's Pizza is being honored with the magazine's annual Chain of the Year award. Behind the strength of a 9.9 percent increase in domestic comps, Domino's has earned the repeat designation, says Editor-in-Chief Jeremy White.
"What Domino's has managed to do over the past two years is simply amazing," White says. "When a company this size finds a way to grow its U.S. same-store sales by 9.9 percent, that's noteworthy. Additionally, Domino's international units were up by 6.9 percent. These important markers are positive proof that the company's strategy of overhauling its menu and marketing is paying off in a big way."
White visited the Domino's world headquarters this spring to conduct interviews with company executives. The Chain of the Year story will appear in the June issue of Pizza Today.
Pizza Patron markets to mainstream audience
Dallas, Texas-based Pizza Patron recently launched a marketing initiative to target a younger, bi-cultural demographic. The campaign reflects a shift in its customer base from its previous advertising target of an older, Spanish-perferred demographic.
"Today, second generation Hispanics account for nearly 60 percent of overall Hispanic population growth in the U.S., according to the Pew Hispanic Center," says Andrew Gamm, Pizza Patron brand director. "This landmark change has very important socio-economic, demographic and especially language preference implications."
The new advertising campaign highlights the company's 25-year-old slogan, "Mas Pizza. Menos Dinero," as well as the caliber of its fresh ingredients, dough made throughout the day and bilingual staff.
Founded in 1986, Pizza Patron operates 100 restaurants in seven states with 40 more in development.
Straw Hat honors heroes during May
Straw Hat Pizza announced that it will offer a 25 percent off the entire purchase (excluding lunch buffet, alcohol and delivery) to members of the Armed Forces, law enforcement, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics for the entire month of May.
"A big part of our history and philosophy at Straw Hat Pizza is being part of the communities in which we serve," says Jonathan Fornaci, president of Straw Hat Pizza. "Honoring local heroes is Straw Hat's way of thanking these men and women who do amazing things every day, and we dedicate the month of May for well deserved recognition to these people in our neighborhoods we consider heroes.
Founded in 1959, the California chain hosts pizza tours and fundraisers as a part of their community relations. New franchise locations will open in Arkansas, California, Montana, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey and Texas, with plans to reach 150 locations within two years.
Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria to match donations for Japan relief
Located in Seattle, Washington, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria pledges a donation match, up to $5,000, during May for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. Guests dining at one of its four locations can designate a dollar amount on their meal check. The donation will be presented to Mercy Corps, an organization that will bring needed emergency supplies and care to citizens affected by the recent natural disasters in Japan.
Tutta Bella has a strong tie to Japan through the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, founded in 1984 with representation in 17 countries, says Joyce Morinaka, director of operations at Tutta Bella. Outside Italy, Japan shares the distinction, along with the United States, of having 35 or more certified pizzerias.
Opening its first location in 2004, Tutta Bella has four Washington locations: Columbia City, Issaquah, Stone Way and Westlake. The restaurant became the first Vera Pizza Papoletana certified Neapolitan pizzeria in the Northwest.
Restaurant industry outlook continues to improve
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) reports the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) stood at 101.0 in March, up 0.3 percent from February. The increase marks the sixth time in seven months that the RPI rose above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.
"The March increase in the Restaurant Performance Index was fueled by continued improvements in the same-store sales and customer traffic indicators," says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the research and knowledge group for NRA. "Most notably, the overall current situation component of the RPI stood above 100 for the first time in 43 months, which signifies expansion in the indicators of current industry performance.
"Although restaurant operators remain bullish about their business' sales growth in the months ahead, their optimism about the direction of the overall economy has faded somewhat," he adds. "Just 32 percent of restaurant operators expect economic conditions to improve in the next six months, the lowest level since September 2010."
Restaurant operators remain optimistic about sales growth. Fifty percent expect higher sales in six months, up from 48 percent in February. Twenty-six percent plan staff gains in the next six months, while 11 percent expect to reduce staffing in six months.
Pizza Republica launches new menu
Pizza Republica in Greenwood Village, Colorado, announced that it began offering an expanded menu this week. The wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant will have a full service lunch menu while continuing dinner service.
"As our lunch and dinner seatings have grown to have distinct personalities, to better serve our guests we decided it was time for our first dedicated lunch and dinner menus," says George Eder, CEO at Pizza Republica.
The new lunch menu features starters, salads, five sandwiches, seven hand-crafted pizzas, and "build your own" options. The expanded dinner menu includes three new salads, two new pizzas and two new entrees. Pizza Vesuvius features three meats, cheese, artichoke, olives and spinach. Other new dinner options include Tuna Verona and Grilled tuna salads along with a seared tuna and prosciutto entree.
Kids eat free on Mother's Day at The Loop Pizza Grill
To celebrate moms, Jacksonville, Florida-based The Loop Pizza Grill will offer customers a kids eat free promotion (one free kid's meal with the purchase of an adult meal) on Mother's Day, May 8.
"Who's more important than mom?" says Cathy Manzon, marketing director at The Loop. "Sunday is the day when we have the opportunity to step back and say 'thank you' to all moms. We want families to be able to share this special day together without breaking the bank."
Participating locations include: Jacksonville, Florida; Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill and Kernersville, North Carolina. Founded in 1981, The Loop has 14 locations in three states.