As PMQ celebrates its 20th anniversary, we honor the past and look forward to the future in this special oral history.
PMQ’s founders and longtime team members reflect on two decades of progress, pranks, pitfalls and pizza.
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Linda Green, co-publisher: My father and his brother had a pizzeria in the 1950s, one of the first in San Jose, California. Back then, it was an ethnic food. My father would always talk about pizza in a way that made me feel comforted, and he would make it at home sometimes. The pizzeria lasted only a few years, but I always loved pizza, so when my husband wanted to start a pizza magazine, I felt really at home.
That was back in 1997. Steve always had a passion for the pizza industry and was looking for someone to help him. I had a thrift store, but it’s not that lucrative a business, as it turns out, and Steve and I have always been a good team as business partners. When we started, I was in sales. We offered a more affordable publication and more marketing ideas; we felt we could help the industry. I think people didn’t know if we were going to last.
Steve was very excited about launching the publication, and we started in our home. We had extra rooms in our house, so I’d get up in the morning, have coffee and welcome our couple of employees. I remember thinking it seemed a little crazy: Can we pay the bills with three children? But Steve’s a good salesman. He sold me on the idea, and I sold my thrift store.
Putting In A Good Word:
“Without PMQ, Dodo Pizza wouldn’t be the same. We wanted to bring restaurant quality to the delivery market, and securing high-grade ingredients was the key to our business model. We found most of our suppliers through the magazine. Our pizzeria in Oxford, Mississippi, now boasts a small but efficiently organized kitchen—again, thanks to the contacts and tips found in PMQ. But most important for us was the inspiration and support we got from the editorial staff and the tight-knit PMQ community. It gave us the energy and knowledge we needed to overcome all the hurdles on the way to our dream of building a small IT-driven chain of artisan pizza delivery restaurants. Now this dream has come true: We’re opening our second location in Southaven, Mississippi, and looking for a place for the third. Thanks a million, PMQ!”
— Alena Tikhova, CEO, Dodo Pizza USA
Tom Boyles, account executive/former editor-in-chief: I was in school in 2000 and looking for a job when I got a call from Steve Green, who interviewed me at his kitchen table. I always thought I’d work for Rolling Stone, and this was a pizza magazine. I started two weeks after I graduated. In their living room, Steve and Linda had a desk opposite each other, and my “office” was the den. My desk was a ping-pong table. I thought, “What did I get myself into?” But it was really exciting. Starting small like that, there wasn’t some preconceived notion of what we must write about, so we did stories on the little guys. I think that really helped build our magazine.
Steve: We were working out of our home, in our rec room, for about three years—until a neighbor complained about too many cars in our front yard. We were forced to move to an office, which was the best thing we ever did.
Tom: In a few months, we had an office with a receptionist and two phone lines. We were movin’ on up! If you wanted to be on the Internet, only one person could be on the phone. It was like working in a closet; you could hear every conversation everyone had. We had just launched the website and brought on a graphic designer. Six months into the website, we had 100 visitors in one day. We thought we had arrived.