(COPPELL, Texas) Jan. 20, 2011 — CiCi’s Pizza announces the winner of its first Pizza Throwdown finals, held in Frisco, Texas, on January 11. Elizabeth Cruz of Roeland Park, Kansas, takes home the grand prize of $2,500, a 47” Samsung LED TV and the coveted Crystal Pizza Cutter after making 17 pizzas and two desserts, CiCi’s entire buffet rotation, in just 25 minutes and 29 seconds. Martin Caballero, first runner-up, was awarded “Best Quality.”
· First runner-up: Martin Caballero, Lynchburg, Va., winner of $1,500 and a Play Station 3 with Motion
· Second runner-up: Martin Gallegos, Terrell, Texas, winner of $1,000 and an Xbox 360
· Third runner-up: Alvaro Patino, Shreveport, La., winner of $500 and an iPod Touch with speakers
The contest, which began in November with more than 300 contestants, judged the contestants’ mastery in multiple areas: quality pizza assembly (like dough stretching, seasoning coverage and even cutting), speed, accuracy and ability to keep CiCi’s famous pizza, pasta, soup, salad and dessert buffet stocked with hot and fresh pizza while providing a welcoming atmosphere for guests. The top four contestants in the preliminary rounds competed in the Pizza Throwdown Finals.
“Watching the skill and precision these four team members brought to the CiCi’s Pizza Throwdown competition energized the entire company,” said Mike Shumsky, CiCi’s Pizza CEO. “Team members like these finalists are why CiCi’s can consistently give guests a positive experience, and the Throwdown gave us an opportunity to give our team members the appreciation they deserve.”
Places and times
· Overall competition
o Elizabeth Cruz: 25 minutes and 29 seconds
o Martin Caballero: 26 minutes and 14 seconds
o Martin Gallegos: 26 minutes and 43 seconds
o Alvaro Patino: 28 minutes and 28 seconds
· Fastest dough stretching – Elizabeth Cruz, 3 minutes and 37 seconds
· Fastest sauce and cheese time – Martin Gallegos, four minutes and 38 seconds
· Fastest cook time – Martin Caballero, four minutes and 50 seconds
· Best quality – Martin Caballero
“Watching the skill and precision these four team members brought to the CiCi’s Pizza Throwdown competition energized the entire company. Team members like these finalists are why CiCi’s can consistently give guests a positive experience, and the Throwdown gave us an opportunity to give them the appreciation they deserve.” – Mike Shumsky, CiCi’s Pizza CEO
“The speed and skill these team members show is incredible. They can make the entire CiCi’s Pizza buffet rotation in less than thirty minutes, and they do it all to exacting standards entirely from memory.” – Chris Patterson, CiCi’s Pizza Director of People Development
· The first-ever CiCi’s Pizza Throwdown was held in Frisco, Texas on Jan. 11, 2011 to recognize the Ultimate Pizza Artist.
· Elizabeth Cruz was the grand-prize winner of $2,500 and a 47” Samsung LED TV.
· The four finalists were culled from a field of 300 contestants.
· The competition was judged based on speed and accuracy.
· Cruz stretched dough for 17 pizzas and 2 desserts in about three minutes and 30 seconds.
About CiCi’s Pizza
CiCi’s first restaurant opened in Plano, Texas in 1985. The family-oriented restaurant is known for its popular pizza, pasta, salad and dessert buffet featuring up to 20 varieties of pizza and fresh ingredients for $5 and change. Today, the expanding company has more than 600 restaurants in 35 states. CiCi’s commitment to value was recently recognized in USA Today, Restaurants & Institutions and Nation’s Restaurant News, which ranked CiCi’s No. 1 in sales and unit growth among pizza chains for the past four years. In 2010, Parents magazine ranked CiCi’s to its top family friendly list, and Entrepreneur magazine ranked CiCi’s Pizza first in the Italian restaurant industry category in 2009 and 2007. Also a franchise veteran, CiCi’s was named to a list of the top 25 performing brands in the Wall Street Journal’s guide for entrepreneurs and a top 200 franchise concepts by Franchise Today.