Ohio restaurant show – big on pizza

The 36th Annual Mid-America Restaurant, Soft Serve and Pizza Show was held February 25th and 26th at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. This year especially was important to the pizza industry. Jeff Slutsky of StreetFighter fame and regular contributor to PMQ was the keynote speaker of the two-day pizza rally. In addition to the many new and helpful ideas found there, the first springboard competition to the World Pizza Championship in Italy was held. The winners of the Pizza Pizzazz competition (best pizza contest) were awarded a free, all expense paid trip to Salsomaggiore Italy. The trip was sponsored by the Ohio Restaurant Association, PMQ and the Italian Pizza Magazine, Pizza E Pasta Italiano.

Winner of the best pizza in the traditional category was Michael Evans of Michaels Pizza and Pasta, Columbus Ohio. Also from Columbus was the winner of the Gourmet category, Jodi Aufdencamp of Mama Mimi's Take and Bake.

Best Ideas for the Pizza Operator.

PMQ went to each booth asking the question, "What does this exhibitor have to offer the typical pizza operator?" As a result of visiting all of the exhibits we have come up with a short list of the best ideas you may have missed if you were not one of the 15,000 attendees of this year's event.

#1 Become CIA Agent. (Cheese-steak Institute of America)

Thinking about adding cheese-steaks to your menu? Royal Meats has created a marketing program that could make selling cheese steaks an easy transition. Plus it's a fun way to get your customers' attention. Royal Meats is a company that supplies a large part of the Mid-West and to build customer loyalty with their clients and customers, they have come up with their CIA recruitment campaign.

The CIA Recruitment system can be set up for any pizza store that would like to participate. The program is trouble free. You simply direct the customer to where they will register for their CIA card. Soon they will receive a letter and their card in the mail. Then when your customers buy a cheese steak you'll validate their CIA agent card with your top-secret pentagon punch. When your customer buys his 10th cheese steak, it's on Royal Meats. They'll reimburse you for the food cost. Current service area: MI IN OH PA KY TN WI MN

Greg Arnoldy, Royal Meats Inc
1503 Eureka Road,
Wyandotte MI 48192

#2 Can't find that coupon when you need it? …Print One allows you to use their preprinted box toppers and marketing POP material to get your customers to go to your more flexible and less expensive on-line coupon system. There you can display special offers and have something for the special online type of customer.

Tim Telesz,
Columbus Ohio, 800-428-4061, Fax 740-983-8334

#3 Reverse Marketing Program For Independent Restaurants

Taste America Gifts sells local neighborhood gift certificates to consumers that are good at independent restaurants throughout the country. Here's how it works. Taste America does all the marketing, printing and customer developing for you. All you do is to agree to accept the Taste America Gift Certificates. They call it reverse marketing because you don't pay for any marketing expenses until you know that the marketing worked. The gift certificate you receive from the customer deposits into your bank account where Taste America drafts a 20% commission. They only work with independents since Pizza Hut and the other chains already have existing gift certificate programs.

Mike Reese, Taste America Gifts
8775 Norwin Avenue Suite 140,
North Huntington PA 15642
866-346-3824, Fax 724-863-4593

#4 Music Can Make Food Taste Better!

Whether your pizza business is trendy, exclusive, typical or low budget, music can play an important role in setting the right buying mood for your restaurant. DMX has done extensive consumer and demographic research to provide the best music match. By offering over 100 channels of satellite or Internet delivered programs of nonstop music, DMX can customize a music profile that matches your customers precisely. California Pizza Kitchen has all 76 of their locations using their services.

David Bell,
DMX Music