The Keynote Addresses are FREE for all registered attendees. The 2017 keynotes are described below. Speakers for 2018 will be posted at a later date.
Keynote 1 — Gabriel Stulman
Tuesday, March 28: 8:15 – 9:15 a.m.
Opening six restaurants within five years in Manhattan’s West Village — all different concepts — sounds like an invitation for disaster. But Gabriel Stulman has the golden touch, and for a man still in his mid-30s, a keen understanding of dining trends and his devoted diners.
He is an independent restaurateur, with the emphasis on “independent.” Any pizzeria can learn from his unique approach to the business, which places the emphasis on developing neighborhood hangouts that celebrate the individual. A few examples: Staff do not wear uniforms and are encouraged to dress in their own style; employees bring in the background music that plays in each restaurant; and bartenders are asked to pick out one new customer each night to serve a drink on the house, no questions asked.
Gabriel Stulman’s commitment to neighborhood-first is so strong that he responded in an unorthodox fashion after he was named Restaurateur of the Year by Esquire magazine in 2012 and Fedora, his Italian concept, was getting so many reservations from “tourist diners” that locals could not get in the door. He simply eliminated reservations to better serve his neighborhood walk-ins.
Stulman will elaborate on other ways his Happy Cooking Hospitality group fosters employee engagement and creates a feeling of community during his keynote prior to the opening of the Pizza Expo Exhibit Hall.
Gabriel Stulman was named to the “40 Under 40” list by Crain’s New York Business and in 2012 as Restaurateur of the Year by Esquire magazine. Stulman’s Happy Cooking Hospitality group currently operates five hit NYC restaurants — Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey’s Grocery, Fedora, bar Sardine and Perla cafe, a casual Italian restaurant. His most recent deal is an agreement to open in fall 2017 a restaurant in Gramercy Park inside the new Freehand New York hotel. A Virginia native schooled at the University of Wisconsin, he’ll share lessons learned during his rapid rise within the tough New York City dining scene.
To learn more about Gabriel Stulman read this interview of him by GQ.com.
Keynote 2 — Michael Lastoria
Founder and CEO
Wednesday, March 29: 8:15 – 9:15 a.m.
Michael Lastoria, founder of &pizza, changed the way Washingtonians (and Baltimorians, and Virginians, and …) think about their local pizza shop. He opened the first &pizza in D.C.’s H Street Corridor in 2012, rejecting industry pundits and politicians who said the neighborhood was too risky, too insular, too low-market. Lastoria rejected that notion, and all the others about the traditional pizza shop. He opened that store with a brand-first, experience-oriented philosophy, earned the respect of the community and now, four years later, has opened 20 more — all company-owned stores — in equally off-the-path neighborhoods. That’s not to say he’s made copies. Each store is different; &pizza prides itself on reflecting its local community, both in terms of design and vibe. And there will be more: The company announced in November 2016 that it has received $25 million of growth capital to fund “its rapid expansion into several major markets, including New York City.”
With a background in marketing and branding, Lastoria also made it a point of foundational purpose to give back, both to the locality and its employees. That’s why the brand started “&charity,” a hyper-localized charity arm, and why more than 50 of the company’s approximately 500-plus staff got the &pizza logo, its trademark ampersand, tattooed on their body, offered for free to Tribe Members (staff) by the brand. Seems he’s on to something.
Hear his philosophies about brand, pizza and business growth during his Wednesday morning keynote. To learn more about his company’s recent $25 million growth-capital agreement with private investors and plans to bring &pizza to New York City read this news item.
Special Pizza Baking Demonstration
Tony Gemignani and Graziano Bertuzzo
Two Champions Unite
Thursday, March 30
9 – 10 a.m.
Kick off Thursday at Pizza Expo with world champions from two continents — Tony Gemignani of San Francisco and Graziano Bertuzzo of Lecce, Italy — who both operate award-winning pizzerias as well as instruct and certify pizza makers. Graziano is a founder of the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli and Tony runs the International School of Pizza. Arrive early to the Show Floor Demo Area for this exclusive event and listen in as two of the greatest living pizza chefs prepare and bake classic Italian and Roman-style pies.
FREE for all registered attendees.