What a show! Until this year, the NAPICS (North American Pizza and Ice Cream Show) had focused on the Ohio region. This year NAPICS took on a new attitude, look and approach to what was the Mid-America Pizza Show and put on a national show and absolutely succeeded in their endeavor. There were 7,285 industry people who attended the two-day show on February 8th and 9th.

Seminars for the pizza segment included "Price Risk Management Strategy for Pizza Operators-Smoothing Out the Peaks and Valleys in Cheese Buying," "Take 'N Bake-The Next Mega Trend-Is it Right for You," and "The Top 3 Insurance Issues Facing Pizzeria Owners in 2004." New this year was an all-day Saturday "Pizza Operator's Workshop," which included speakers Big Dave Ostrander, Kamron Karington, Jim Laube, and Tom Lehmann.

A Pizza President's Panel featured CEO's Jim Grote of Donato's Pizzeria; Steven Jackson of Hungry Howie's; Scott Adams of Nick & Willy's World Famous Take-N-Bake; and E. Jay Myers of Goodfella's Old-World Brick Oven Pizza. These CEOs revealed the fascinating history of their businesses and some of their trial and errors in the pizza industry. A Pizza Women's Roundtable set Jodi Aufdencamp of Mama Mimi's Take 'N Bake Pizza; Debbie Taranto Antoun of Taranto's Pizzeria and Michelle Burt of Spanky's Pizza in an informal forum. These three Pizza Divas discussed how they got to where they are and what pitfalls they had to overcome.

Stakes were high for two days in the North America Pizza Pizzazz/Official U.S. Pizza Team Trials for the forty-two gourmet and forty-three traditional pizza contestants. The first place winners won $600 and an all-expense paid trip to compete in the World Pizza competition in April in Salsomaggiore, Italy. Top honors for gourmet pizza, held on Sunday, went to Brynne Humphreys of Avalanche Pizza, LTD, Athens, Ohio, for her "Godzilla Pizza." Second prize and $400 went to Max Rhinehart, also of Avalanche Pizza, LTD in Athens, Ohio for his "Avalanche Pizza." Third place and $200 went to Jackie Hall of Felix's Pizza of Pataskala, Ohio for her "White Sauce Special."

There were also two new winners in the U.S. Pizza Team acrobatic competitions. They were: George Giove who won the Dough Tossing event and Brian Edler won both the Largest Dough Stretching and Fastest Pizza Maker.

Top honors for traditional pizza, held on Monday, went to Sean Brauser of Romeo's Pizza, Medina, Ohio for his "Butcher Shop Pizza." Second place and $400 went to Steve Camp Joseppi's Pizza of Hilliard, Ohio for his "Mega Meat." Third place and $200 went to Dennis Ball, Margie's Pizza & Pasts in Goodrich, Michigan for his "Tornado Pizza." New and hot this year on the show exhibit floor was a Pizza Resource Kitchen. In this complete working kitchen, pizza makers could test and compare in a hands-on area, with food and equipment provided and get expert advice from the manufacturers' representatives. Makers could bring their dough, sauce, cheese and toppings to see how they might perform in the high tech ovens. They could practice with their own dough on the dough rollers.

PMQ also made the Annual Pizza Industry Enterprise (PIE) award to Terry Collins from Papa Murphy's Take-and-Bake. Way to go guys. Terry addressed the crowd and told about how Papa Murphy's get started and where they're headed. Watch out East Coast because these guys are headed your way.

Once again, PMQ did the legwork for those who couldn't attend and found the Best Ideas of the Show. Here is a sampling of the best ideas from the show.

Idea #1
No-Carb Wings

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know about the low-carb craze going on with Americans. In response, La Nova Wings has launched a line of no-carb chicken wings. We tried these and they were great. It may be time to think about this low-carb thing. Even if it is a trend that only lasts for another year, there's opportunity right now for creative and innovative thinkers.

La Nova Wings
1-800-6LA NOVA

Idea #2
Changeable Banners

Banners are an economical way to draw attention to promotions and specials, but the problem is once they are printed, you have to get a new one if you change the price or the promotion. Not with this product. These banners come with replaceable letters and numbers They are even designed with a lip that hangs over the slot where the letters go so it stays clean and clear in any weather. Good idea.

MC Sign


Idea #3
Cheesestick/Breadstick Hybrid

Cheesesticks sell. Breadsticks sell. Here is a product that is a fusion of both. They are called Bosco Sticks. The product tastes great and you are also supplied with the bags, which makes them a great to-go item. These have great profit potential because they cost about $0.40 each and an order of five or six can sell for $4.99 to $5.99.

Pinto Marketing


Idea #4
Web Ordering without a POS

One of the obstacles pizzeria owners had to overcome with online ordering was finding a POS system that could handle online orders or integrating your online ordering system with your existing register system. With this system, you can now offer online ordering without a POS system.

Pizza Master


Idea #5
Loyalty and Gift Card Shark

Thinking about loyalty programs, gift cards or other promotional cards? Here's the company to call. We stopped by and talked to Mike Hallahan about different ideas for using these cards. He has every type of promotional card you can imagine and ideas to match. They can also provide you with key tags, ID cards and other plastic promotional items.



Pizza News, Tom Lehmann