January 1, 2016 |

Expo Spotlight: Up to the Challenge?

By Bill Oakley

Bill Oakley Show Director International Pizza Expo

Bill Oakley
Show Director
International Pizza Expo

For those with competitive spirits, there’s nothing quite like the International Pizza Challenge. Since its inception in 2007, the Challenge has grown in stature and prize money. In fact, it’s the largest pizza competition in the United States!

Pizza makers from around the world compete in five different divisions. The way it works is pretty simple: register to attend International Pizza Expo, March 7-10, 2016, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Once registered, sign up to compete. But spots are limited and hard to come by: some divisions are capped at just 30 participants. Our largest divisions allow only 60 participants.

Competitors bring their own ingredients, while show management provides refrigeration space, equipment and ovens. Judging panels are comprised of impartial chefs, food critics and industry professionals.

Past International Pizza Challenge winners have reported back to us sales increases of approximately 35 percent. Winning this competition carries some serious weight!

Do you have what it takes? If you think you do, visit PizzaExpo.com today to register to attend and sign up for the International Pizza Challenge.

Best Regards,
Bill Oakley


Monday at Pizza Expo:

A Day to Refine Your Pizzeria’s Concept

Mark Dym, owner Racca's Pizzeria Napoletana (formerly Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza)

Mark Dym, owner
Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana
(formerly Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza)

We’ve scheduled an afternoon of education sessions designed to help you improve the plan for your new pizzeria or fine-tune existing restaurants. The sessions are free for all registered attendees. Geared to new operators and early-arriving attendees, the Monday special program begins with a presentation by Mark Dym, whose two-unit Denver operation was named Pizza Today’s Independent Pizzeria of the Year for 2015. You’ll hear how he entered the business and rose to the highest level in just eight years.

Dym will be followed by two restaurant industry consultants who specialize in concept development, branding and marketing. First, Aaron Allen will talk about how to build a pizzeria concept that is bulletproof in today’s business climate. He’ll be followed by restaurant marketing specialist Tim Kirkland, whose seminar, “Making a Name for Your New Pizzeria” will present a solid list of must-dos for anyone facing the challenge of opening a new store.

Also on Monday afternoon: the Pizzeria Concept Showcase. Back for a third year, this informative sequence of short presentations by highly successful pizzeria owners gives you a chance to see how they developed their businesses and take away strategies that will help you refine your own operations.

Here’s who you can see during the showcase on Monday, March 7, in Las Vegas:

•  Mike Bausch of Andolini’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma
•  Keith Coffman of Lost River in Bowling Green, Kentucky
•  Barry Childers of Barry’s Pizza in Houston, Texas
•  Anne Keller and Jen Zeuner of Hot Tomato in Fruita, Colorado
•  Billy Manzo of Federal Hill in Warren, Rhode Island
•  Randy Smith of Randy’s in Durham, North Carolina.

Topping off the day will be a panel discussion on Common Pizzeria Start-Up Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Moderated by Pizza Today Editor-in-Chief Jeremy White, the panel includes Scott Anthony, Paul Knaysi, Jeff Smokevitch and Tony Gemignani. Learn from them so you won’t repeat often-seen start-up errors.

For more information about Monday’s schedule and the entire education program, go to PizzaExpo.com.

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