PMQ Pizza Magazine’s online “Think Tank” forum is the impetus behind a gathering of key independent pizzeria visionaries at the first Western Pizza Summit. The event will take place the evening of July 15 at the Wholly Stromboli Restaurant in Fort Lupton, Colorado.

Pizza operators from Colorado and other states will gather for a night of good food and pizza industry discussion at the east-coast Italian eatery 30 miles outside of Denver. After dinner, a distinguished panel of pizzeria operators will convene in a PMQ-moderated and taped discussion of pressing pizza industry issues like rising employee costs, POS adaptability, menu innovation and social media marketing opportunities. The panel will consist of Richard Ames, owner of Daddio’s Pizzeria in Grande, Prairie, Alberta, Canada; Steve Hitchcock, owner of Soda Creek Pizza in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Melissa Rickman, co-owner of Wholly Stromboli; and Michael LaMarca, owner of six Master Pizza restaurants based in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

The Western Pizza Summit will be held in hte Speakeasy at Wholly Stromboli, with doors opening on July 15 at 4 p.m., followed by a social hour and dinner at 5 p.m. The panel will convene after dinner. The Speakeasy features a spacious seating area, bar and stage. “We found a 103-year-old historic building that had never been a restaurant before, and with a lot of help from family, friends and Fort Lupton community members, we gutted, renovated and turned the building into a full-service restaurant and bar,” said Wholly Stromboli co-owner Eric Rickman.  “My wife, Melissa, grew up on the East Coast. Our mission is to bring quality East Coast fare served with Western hospitality and service.”  

Ames, online nickname Daddio, and Hitchcock are major contributors on’s Think Tank forum ( Ames, originally from Colorado, is making a tour of pizzerias in his native state en route to a high school class reunion.  “I view this as a great opportunity to get together with American pizzeria owners in the western part of the country who are dealing with many of the same challenges we face as pizza operators in Canada,” Ames said. “In some cases, our experience with the Canadian government offers a preview of what’s in store for our American counterparts as we deal with subjects like minimum wage hikes and commodity prices.”  

Interested pizza industry practitioners can reserve a ticket for the event by going online to and using the password “thinktank.”    

Pizza News