March 19, 2018 |

Overheard at New Operator Monday – Pizza Expo

By Denise Greer

pizza expo, las vegas, pizzerias

Monday afternoon at Pizza Expo is all about launching a pizzeria and growing an existing one. The seminar rooms were standing room only as pizzeria operators and industry experts sounded off on essential pizzeria business topics from menu creativity, pizza dough and ingredients to operational systems and employee hiring. We’ve collected few quotes from the day to get you started at Pizza Expo:


“What can I do that’s different? This is the Pizza Romana. I stole this recipe here at the Pizza Expo. This is the best thing to do at the Pizza Expo steal stuff. Make friends and steal everything they have.”  — John Gutekanst, owner, Avalanche Pizza, Athens, Ohio


“The person who the most creative wins.” — John Gutekanst, owner, Avalanche Pizza, Athens, Ohio


“How many people are using a thermometer?… Time and temperatures are all about consistency in the final product.” — Bill Weekley, corporate baker, General Mills


On employee recruiting: “We always need to be fishing. Start social recruiting. They may not follow you but they follow hashtags (#restaurantjobs, hospitalityjobs, #bartenderjobs, #(your city)jobs, #(your state)jobs).” — T.J. Schier,


“When it comes to working with specialty cheeses you have to train your staff really well. If you are not portioning them out ahead of time, staff can cut corners and it will affect how they perform so sometimes you’ll end up losing out on the product because you use more of it… It’s supposed to be a finishing cheese but instead it’s melting into it.” Laura Meyers, regional corporate chef, Pizza Rock Group, Northern California


“I built my model based on the capital that I had.” — Scott Sandler, Pizza Head, St. Louis, MO


“Don’t be discouraged when you are told ‘no’ by banks for financing. I was told ‘no’ by 11 bank and finally ‘yes’ by the 12th.” — Keith Coffman, Lost River Pizza Co., Bowling Green, KY


“Have a strong timeline on when you are going to open. And, two words: soft opening.” — Melissa Rickman, Wholly Stromboli, Fort Lupton, CO


“Especially people who have never opened a restaurant, one thing that people need to know is how hard it is… You are going to have to bust your ass.” — Pasquale Di Diana, Bacca Pizza, Chicago, IL

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