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: One thing that amazes me about Steve is that he’s always gotten the technology. He wanted a website in 1997; I didn’t know what a website was back then! We wrote about online ordering in the late ’90s, and now people order from their phones. We’ve always talked about how independents can stay competitive with the big boys. I remember ordering my first online pizza five years ago, which was so exciting, and now we have a pizzeria here in Oxford that takes only online orders!
Sherlyn Clark, circulation manager: I started here in 2000 as office manager. They’d just transitioned to an actual office, and I dropped off a resume on my lunch break. Steve explained it was for the pizza industry, and I was just in awe. When I first started, our mailing list was all me. The mail truck would pull up and unload bins of returned mail; I’d have to physically go through them to remove bad addresses and address changes. One came in, and the post office had written, “In prison for killing wife.” Another was in prison for tax evasion.
Putting in a good word
“Thanks for 20 years of great stories, insights and ideas! I used to print out all the Think Tanks every month and keep them on my desk in my marketing war room. I have tried, and mastered, many of those old Think Tank ideas and others that have come across the PMQ pages and website. I have accomplished many of my goals in the pizza industry with the knowledge I gained from your publication. There are just a few goals I’m still working on every day. One of those is to grace your cover.”
— Nick Bogacz, president, Caliente Pizza & Draft House, Philadelphia
Steve: We started the U.S. Pizza Team (USPT) in 2000, and it has been a treasure trove of opportunities for so many people. A lot of people just love the name—like it’s part of the government! I was inspired by the movie Dumb and Dumber, when the Swedish Bikini Team shows up. It stuck in my head—is it real or fake? Let’s make a real one: The U.S. Pizza Team. The first year we went to Italy, we took three people to compete at the World Pizza Championship—a pizza spinner, a culinary expert, and a guy who had convinced me he made pizzas for the White House, which turned out not to be true. That was the first time an American, Tony Gemignani, won for spinning, and we got calls from the BBC. We realized that the team was publicity gold, and ever since, we’ve tried to build it, looking for the best pizza makers and spinners around the country. Our dream is for the best to compete in the name of pizza, in the name of America, worldwide. The USPT has been on Martha Stewart, Regis & Kelly, the Today show. In 2004, we used a PR guy for a New York tour, and he said in 20 years of being in PR, he never had a client that was easier to sell than the USPT.