What's New in 2013
The first day of Pizza Expo will kick off with a special appearance by Chef Robert Irvine, the host of the Food Network's prime-time series Restaurant: Impossible.
Tuesday, March 19, begins with Chef Irvine's keynote address—open to all attendees—titled "Pizzeria Possible—What I've Learned About Restaurant Makeovers That Could Improve Your Business." The popular television personality has seen his share of struggling restaurants as the star of Restaurant: Impossible and he'll draw from past episodes to present lessons on renovations that really work—in the kitchen, in the front of the house and in the minds of diners.
This 7:45 a.m. opening keynote promises to be high-energy and vastly entertaining, while remaining on-topic for everyone at Pizza Expo.
Chef Irvine will then move to the Demonstration Area in the Exhibit Hall for an 11:30 a.m. cooking demonstration, again open to all attendees on a first-seated basis. The native of England, with 25-plus years as a chef and entertainer, has cooked for the English royal family, for U.S. dignitaries and in the kitchens of top international hotels, among other culinary adventures. He has also authored two cookbooks. Chef Irvine will present items suitable for a pizza-concept menu during his Expo demonstration.
Wednesday, March 20, will be launched with a 7:45 a.m. keynote session featuring a one-on-one with Bill Jacobs, owner of Piece Brewery & Pizzeria, a Chicago pizza-concept brewpub that produces an astonishing $6 million-plus in annual revenues. Piece was named the 2011 Independent Pizzeria of the Year by Pizza Today magazine, and Jacobs has masterminded an operation that uses every inch of its tight urban space to maximize business.
Jacobs will be interviewed in the keynote session by Pizza Today editor Jeremy White. His questions will bring out telling details behind the Piece story, generating deep insights into the strategies and operations that make Piece such a huge success. Whether it's the pizza pub's sophisticated marketing campaign, its high-volume, small-space brewing operation, its low-key employee management or any other aspect of the business, there'll be much to learn from the personal and professional life story of Bill Jacobs.
Jacobs also will appear in a morning seminar Tuesday, March 19, as a co-presenter with Jim Furrh, the marketing guru behind Piece Brewery & Pizzeria. Titled "The Branding Campaign That Makes Us Millions," the session will be spiced with a PowerPoint presentation depicting various Piece advertising, poster and social media marketing messages—and it'll show how creativity, consistency and a little humor can go a long way in building a top-of-mind dining destination.
For the 2013 show, we’ll bring back the four divisions of the International Pizza Challenge that produced such a rousing competition at the last Expo: Traditional, Non-Traditional, American-Pan and Italian-Style. Entries will be taken by fax or phone. (See the International Pizza Challenge tab on the left side of the PizzaExpo.com pages.)
As an attendee, you can observe the preparation and judging of these entries, and you can taste the pies themselves to form your own opinions. Winners in each division move on to the Pizza Maker of the Year finals on Thursday, March 21.
The World Pizza Games will be jazzed up this year with the addition of a new "triathlon" category. Competitors will vie for the best combined time for three events: box-folding, dough-tossing for a 16-inch screen and dough-tossing for a 24-inch screen.
Other Pizza Games events will include fastest box-folding, fastest dough and the ever-popular freestyle acrobatics. The acrobatics championships will be held at the entertaining World Pizza Games Finals & Rockin’ Party on Wednesday evening.
Seminars and Workshops
Among the 75-plus seminars and cooking demonstrations will be these special new sessions:
A powerhouse panel discussion on the subject of building a profitable craft beer program is scheduled for Wednesday morning, March 20, (repeated in the afternoon) featuring co-founders of two major craft breweries—Stone Brewing Co. of San Diego and Schlafly Beer of St. Louis—as well as the operators of two pizzerias that have excelled at building their beer lists. They'll tell you about smart strategies for tapping into this profitable beverage segment and cashing in on perfect pizza-beer pairings.
Another panel will discuss the ins and outs of operating a pizza-concept brewpub. It will feature the founder and president of Arcadia Brewing Co. of Battle Creek, Mich., (which began as a pizza-brewpub) along with two super-successful pizza-concept brewpub owners. Anyone who has considered exploring the brew-your-own option will want to hear this discussion—and bring questions for the panel.
We’ll convene panels consisting of top operators who are on the cutting edge in their approaches to top-of-mind topics. You’ll be able to learn from the best on subjects including winning carryout and delivery strategies, successful employee programs, and proven tactics for driving business with social media marketing.
We’ve gone to great lengths to bring in more pizza owners and operators to speak about how they excel in specific segments of the business. Among the operator-presenters appearing at Pizza Expo 2013 are Glenn Cybulski of Seasons Pizzeria and Sports Bar on doing your own demographics, Doug Ferriman of Crazy Dough’s on selling slices, Clayton Krueger of Farrelli’s on social media, Sean Brauser of Romeo's on outcompeting the big boys—and several more.
Seminar sessions on the final morning of Pizza Expo will be turned over to special topics presented by those who know them best—pizza people. Breakout sessions will be given by Mike Bausch of Andolini’s (managing Gen Y employees), Bruno DiFabio of ReNapoli Pizzeria (opening new units), Joe Carlucci of Famous Joe’s (building catering sales), Michael Shepherd of Michael Angelo’s Pizza (marketing on a budget)—and more.
After a well-attended day of workshops and seminars geared toward new operators and first-time attendees in 2012, we’re expanding the offerings in 2013. In addition to the ever-popular workshop “So You Want to Open a Pizzeria,” Jim Laube will bring back his session, “How to Turn Your Good Restaurant Into a Great Business,” and Joel Cohen will present a workshop on devising a first-year sales-building plan.
A special Power Panel—“ The Million-in-One Club”—also will convene, featuring four operators who have achieved the distinction of earning in excess of $1 million in annual sales out of one unit. They will tell you how they grew from start-up to super-stardom.
A track of afternoon seminars for first-time attendees and a separate one for new operators will round out the programming for pre-show Monday. A networking reception with food and drink will end the day for our new Pizza Expo attendees.