August 7, 2014 |

Throwback Thursday: Incredible Independents in December 1997

By Mandy Wolf Detwiler

dec97Here at Pizza Today, we’ve gotten a pretty good rep for covering independents. Inside our magazine you’ll find DOZENS of sources in our articles –– and most of them are operators just like you. They’re in their stores every day balancing the books, making dough, taking orders –– heck, even washing dishes and making deliveries.

Our emphasis on independent pizzerias goes back a long way. Take this December 1997 cover story. That’s a really busy guy over there. I suspect you guys know what that’s like. Time and again I hear tales of growing pains as independent operators try to balance operations with growth. It’s not easy, and there are bound to be bumps along the way, whether you’re opening that second store or 10th.

One of our most anticipated issues is our Hot 100 Independents issue, which drops in October. Associate Editor Denise G. has been gathering information from a variety of sources for the past two months for our annual Hot 100 Independents list. The drop-dead deadline for publication is next month. Even if your sales don’t place you in the Top 100, it’s a good idea to fill out our Hot 100 form, and I’ll tell you why –– our database lets us know where we need to travel to visit. It tells us about YOU, and that gets you exposure.

There are more than 70,000 pizzerias in America. We hear aaaallll the time that we just NEED to visit this place or that … some come as a surprise to us because simply put, we’ve never heard of you. How do you get noticed? Aside from sending us a “look at me, I’m awesome!” e-mail, Denise physically looks at every single Hot 100 form that comes through and enters you into our database. She notes unusual cities, cool names, sales, volume and number of units. There’s not a day that has gone by in the last three weeks that she hasn’t asked “Hey, have you heard of XYZ Pizza in XXXX?”

Each summer, we name our Independent Pizzeria of the Year. This is a place with under nine locations that is singularly owned and operated, and most of them started just like you. They’ve found success in their areas and gotten killer press for it. Take a minute to read Editor-in-Chief Jeremy White’s comprehensive article on Pizzeria Lola in Minneapolis, our 2014 winner. Owner Ann Kim didn’t cut her teeth in the industry, but she has nevertheless built a small empire that is the envy of industry.

After 10 years here, there are still places I want to visit. We’re only able to feature two pizzerias in each issue at length (and we set that scheduled at the beginning of the year) –– but we’ve got lots of other opportunities to get your name in Pizza Today –– from our Places that Rock page to our Conversation column. Start by filling out the Hot 100 form — then drop me a line at We want to get to know you … but you gotta help us out.