2011 December: Commentary

November and December bring the holidays, and there’s no better time to be thankful. What are you thankful for? If your business is operating and turning a profit, you’ll probably start your list right there considering what we’ve had to endure as an industry over the last several years.

I’m thankful for a number of things: my family, my health, my success at Pizza Today, etc. I could write a novel on each of these subjects. But this month I want to take the time to thank the roughly 200 pizzerias who supported Slice of Hope, the industry-wide charity initiative Pizza Today put together and spearheaded in 2011.

The idea behind Slice of Hope was simple enough: partner National Pizza Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (both lay claim to October) in a way that would bring our industry together like never before. The vision was grandiose: to point America’s pizzerias in the same direction, for just one day, in an effort to better our communities.

From May through October, Pizza Today asked America’s pizzerias to donate a percentage of their sales from Friday, October 7th, to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation. To garner support and to secure press, we announced that myself and a small team of cyclists would bike from Portland to Seattle October 4-7 to raise awareness for the upstart Foundation.

We spent 10 months organizing and planning Slice of Hope. We promoted it in six issues of Pizza Today. We shouted about it on Twitter and Facebook.
We didn’t know what to expect. We had no idea how many pizzerias would take part. After all, the economy is still beating up our industry. Many pizzerias were telling me that sales were actually up, but profits were down and they simply did not have any money to give, regardless of how powerful the cause happened to be.

That’s understandable, and that’s what makes the actions of the aforementioned 200 pizzerias so impressive and laudable. These pizzerias (see them listed next month) banded together and collectively donated thousands of dollars to the Karen Mullen Breast Cancer Foundation through Slice of Hope. In fact, at the time of this writing, more than $84,000 had been raised — and the checks were just starting to come in.

Talk about making a difference where it matters most. (Once a final total is available, we’ll publish it for all to see.)
The pizzerias that took part in Slice of Hope not only did a good thing for society, they also raised their profiles in their respective communities. For one night, they were heroes to their customers — and they also welcomed many first-time patrons through their doors. Next month, we’ll share some of the success stories from Slice of Hope, as well as detail the bike ride from Portland to Seattle. It’s amazing to hear how many of the participating pizzerias took the seed of an idea Pizza Today provided and managed to turn it into a blockbuster local event that increased sales and generated priceless goodwill from their respective neighborhoods.

The pizzerias that supported Slice of Hope deserve a standing ovation from this industry as well as society in general. Please allow me to be the first to say “Thank you.”
If you took part in Slice of Hope, e-mail me your success story as well as some pictures from your event. Also, let me know your thoughts on this question: wanna do it again in 2012?

Best,
Jeremy White, editor-in-chief
jwhite@pizzatoday.com