October 1, 2015 |

A Conversation with Brian Weavel, Anna’s Pizza and Pasta

By Pizza Today

Brian dishes on his eye-opening visit to Pizza Today, his customer base, future menu plans and International Pizza Expo

Anna’s Pizza & Pasta

Winnebago, Illinois

Brian Weavel, owner Anna’s Pizza and Pasta

Brian Weavel, owner Anna’s Pizza and Pasta

When I got to go to Louisville and be Pizza Today’s guest editor for a special issue last year, you don’t know what that experience did for me. I got to experience so many firsts and learned so many new things. It was mind boggling for me. I went into a really high-end artisan pizzeria and saw things on the menu that I didn’t even know existed. And the editors at Pizza Today had me in the test kitchen working with ingredients and recipes and it was a little overwhelming. So much was coming at me so fast from every different angle. It was crazy. I left Louisville with a ton of ideas and a lot of respect for what the magazine’s editors and designers do on a daily basis to bring this great publication to pizzeria owners like me. We’re in the trenches everyday reading it and soaking it up and taking what we can from it to make our businesses better. The experience really pushed me to want to be more, to want to grow and evolve. We’re a little pizza place in a little town in the Midwest. There’s so much out there and I really saw that at Pizza Today.

On his interactions with customers — Winnebago is a small town and everyone here knows everyone, so we are able to really get to know our customers well. They aren’t just numbers or faces to us. We know their names. We know their kids, their parents, their cousins. We are very active in our community. We are always out there in some way, being involved however we can to make our community better and to stay in touch with our customers. They appreciate it.

On his menu — You know, we’re pretty basic. Our customers like pepperoni and sausage and the pizza staples. But there are a lot of things I’ve been wanting to try. Some of them probably won’t go over real great but some of them will. We’ve tried some specialty pizzas out lately that have turned heads and gotten people talking because it’s something new to our area, something people haven’t seen before. When I throw something new out there I like to post photos of it to social media, too, to see what kind of reaction I can get.

On his first trip to International Pizza Expo last March — I could not believe it, literally could not believe it. When we walked in and saw how big it was — it was huge! — my jaw dropped. I had no idea that it was the massive production that it really is. The competitions, all the demonstrations, the booths on the floor, all the food — it just made my head explode. I was blown away. I learned so much and got so excited to get back into the pizzeria and work on my business. It was an amazing time. I’m still talking about it!