INSIDE: PIZZA EVOLUTION PIZZA TRENDS NRAEF HOPES PROGRAM PIZZA MARKETING AND MOREâ€¦
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TABLE OF CONTENTS | WINTER 2020 04 Editor’s Note 06 NRAEF Hopes QA 09 Eatery Pulse grows platform 10 Pizza trends 14 Pizza marketing QA 16 Pizza evolution 21 Trending pizza in D.C.
BUSINESS Executive Editor Rick Zambrano firstname.lastname@example.org
About District Restaurant News Restaurant C-Suite Magazine is distributed by Eatery Pulse Media. Eatery Pulse is a primary source of national restaurant industry news and content, providing information services, consulting and a creative, customcontent studio for business. This digital magazine was specifically created for multi-unit restaurant executives. It delivers the most highly-meaningful news for the restaurant industry’s top leaders of today, and the visionaries of tomorrow. Today’s C-suite executives and their managers need information that is carefully selected, meaningful and delivered in a seamless, cohesive fashion. Stay updated with all our content at subscribe.restaurantcsuite.net.
Swizzle Chill TV/Restaurant C-Suite TV Director Anthony Torres Assistant Editor Margaret McConnell Editorial Designer Ashley McCarty Contributors Lisa Comento and Eric Nomis To place an ad, contact email@example.com.
Powered by Photo left: The pizza category is extremely resilient. Photo by Louis Hansel. On the cover: All-Purpose Pizzeria is an innovator. Photo by All-Purpose.
Copyright 2019 - 2020 Eatery Pulse News Media.
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Pizza continues to be a hot and beloved food in America, but the category has become hyper competitive. Photo by Louis Hansel.
Editor’s Note What’s the state of pizza today? When it comes to foodservice, the answer is that pizza is going strong, but sales are being scattered among many brands, service segments and channels. Third-party delivery services are throwing a wrench into things by introducing yet another channel of access to pizza delivery and takeout. Fast-casual pizza chains have mostly matured and seen their best days go by. However, fast-casual pizza is still a threat to traditional QSR pizza chains such as Domino’s, and to independent pizzerias all across the United States. Pizza restaurants have strong brand recognition. According to research firm Packaged Facts 2019 Eating Trends: Restaurant Use report, 19.4 percent of U.S. adults form the consumer base for Domino’s-that’s one in five adults–with 16.4 percent preferring Pizza Hut and 13.0 percent Little Caesar’s. Once a leading pizza chain in shopping malls, Sbarro dropped to 1.9 percent of consumers by 2019. Packaged
There are a growing number of chains vying for a piece of the pie, and increased ways consumers can access their preferred slice. Facts also found that consumers living in the South were more likely to frequent QSR pizza and pasta restaurants. Although the dining landscape is changing, pizza chains still rank within the top tiers. Domino’s and Pizza Hut are the top 10th and 13th overall
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restaurant chains ranked by adult usage, according to data from Packaged Facts. In addition, Domino’s has been a leader in gaining consumers over the last decade: the Ann Arbor, Mich.based chain took third place behind only Chick-fil-A and Chipotle. In short, pizza still provides a strong value proposition within foodservice. However, there are a growing number of chains vying for a piece of the pie, and increased ways consumers can access their preferred slice. This new complexity is a major reason this issue was put together: to delve deeper into the pizza category and offer insights into the latest developments.
Rick Zambrano Executive Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Video embed: Swizzle Chill TV at Red Wiggler Farm: Food Sustainability in Food Rescue.
Washington, D.C.’s Swizzle Chill TV recently visited a farm where food sustainability was on display. Food rescue and the concept of “gleaning“ fared prominently. Eatery Pulse is bringing its video-centric capabilities to its national magazine, Restaurant C-Suite, this coming spring. Restaurant C-Suite TV will debut.
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Q&A | NRAEF’s Susan Crystal-Mansour HOPES rehabilitation program The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) was awarded $4.5M in July by the U.S. Department of Labor—the largest grant in NRAEF’s history. The NRAEF is developing “pathways from the justice system to employment for young adults” through the historic HOPES program. HOPES stands for Hospitality Opportunities for People (re)Entering Society. Here, we receive more insights into this new program from Susan Crystal-Mansour, PhD, vice president, Program Impact, NRAEF. Restaurant C-Suite Magazine: Congratulations on the grant from the Department of Labor. Can you provide examples of how the HOPES program might impact the markets involved: Boston, Chicago, and the Richmond and Hampton Roads, Virginia areas? Susan Crystal-Mansour: The HOPES program officially began enrollment last Friday, November 15th. To prepare and train justice-involved young adults, we are actively partnering with Susan Crystal-Mansour departments of corrections, community-based organizations and state restaurant associations in the cities of Boston, Chicago, Richmond, and Hampton Roads. Each organization will utilize an NREAF training framework with individuals at participating correctional facilities as well as after release and during parole. Once a HOPES participant completes training, the individual will be placed in a local restaurant and/or foodservice position. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on our progress as we enroll individuals and help train them through this program. RCS: Restaurant owners have been known to provide second-chance foodservice RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 6
The restaurant industry has incredibly strong potential to offer formerly-incarcerated workers the opportunity to re-enter society and accomplish their goals to become productive members of society. Stock photo courtesy of NRAEF.
careers. How will HOPES help accelerate the foodservice industry’s role in forging that path from correctional systems to sustainable restaurant careers? SC: The restaurant industry is an industry of first jobs and second chances. The goal of HOPES is to develop pathways from the justice system to employment for young adults through community partnerships by directly placing justice-involved individuals in restaurant careers. With the unemployment rate of formerly-incarcerated people nearly five times higher than that of the general U.S. population, we know there is a strong need to support these individuals looking to become productive and responsible members of society. The restaurant industry has incredibly strong potential to offer these individuals the opportunities they need to accomplish that. We also have countless success stories of justice-
involved individuals as well as the people committed to supporting them. For example, Karim Webb, a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchisee, is an incredible advocate for young justiceinvolved individuals whom he helps employ through his restaurants and works to train through his community engagement efforts. RCS: Can you provide some details of other programs created in concert with the DOL and describe their community impacts? SC: Another instrumental initiative we are working on with the USDOL is our apprenticeship program; in fact, we just finished celebrating National Apprenticeship Week with over 2,000 individuals enrolled in the nation’s first registered restaurant management apprenticeship program. The response from industry on apprenticeship has been tremendously positive: the program is advancing individuals in entry level positions towards salaried, management careers. It has proved beneficial for companies of all sizes, from small businesses to large restaurant chains, which has allowed us to establish training opportunities for restaurant employees in communities across the country. RCS: Please tell us if the program will be expanded to markets beyond what the grant covers thus far. SC: The NRAEF has the opportunity to receive additional long-term funding from the USDOL in 2020. Dependent upon the levels of additional funding and success achieved with the program, we would welcome the opportunity to expand the HOPES program to additional markets. Susan Crystal-Mansour serves as vice president of Program Impact, leading the implementation and execution of NRAEF’s portfolio of programs and research, including the HOPES grant. Dr. Crystal-Mansour oversees the Foundation’s programs, which include launching the firstever restaurant manager apprenticeship program for the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) and Restaurant Ready, a partnership with community collaboratives nationwide dedicated to teaching industry job and life skills to disengaged populations. Other programs spearheaded by the Foundation include ProStart, Military and Scholarships.
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Eatery Pulse expands multimedia news Washington, D.C. (December 12, 2019) Eatery
Pulse Media, a primary source of restaurants news and custom media and business consultancy, expands its multi-media information services with an exponential expansion of its visual restaurant news platform. The Washington, D.C.-based publisher is expanding its video-based news service and also Eatery Pulse Streem, adding 30 more “streems” over the winter and spring seasons. Eatery Pulse Streem is news delivered in about three (3) minutes to the nation’s top restaurant industry owners, operators and executives. “We’re excited to expand our recurring information services for the benefit of restaurant executives, owners and professionals nationwide,” said Rick Zambrano, Eatery Pulse Media editor. “Providing restaurant news in easy-to-digest formats, saving restaurant leaders and professionals was the driving force behind Eatery Pulse Streem,”
Expanding visual restaurant news platform Over this winter and spring, the Eatery Pulse Network, a collection of multimedia-based digital magazines and information services, will multiply its content threefold and become accessible on any device. Restaurant owners and executives already consider Eatery Pulse a vital tool to stay informed of important restaurant industry news and trends. Now, the network will become a regular source of important restaurant news in multiple formats: video, digital, audio and online. The publisher will add: Restaurant C-Suite Visual Restaurant News Magazine. Eatery Pulse’s restaurant news video platform will produce first-hand reporting and discussion in UHD video format. This quarterly video (news show) magazine will cover important topics released in the digital version, combined with analysis and discussion. The original, digital version will continue to be accessible as part of the Eatery Pulse Plus collection via subscription. Eatery Pulse adds EPN Portfolio. Through the monthly subscription service, restaurateurs can get caught up on national restaurant news in 15 minutes or less each month. As a comprehensive source of news briefs for an entire month, Portfolio becomes yet another vital tool that restaurant owners, operators and executives can access. Eatery Pulse Streem will connect restaurant owners, executives and professionals to restaurant news on more devices during Winter 2020 and an additional news platform. Eatery Pulse News, Eatery Pulse
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez.
Streem (videos and social news), Restaurant C-Suite Magazine and EPN Portfolio are all part of the everexpanding Eatery Pulse Network.
Saving top restaurant industry professionals time and money to stay current, informed “Eatery Pulse News will be the restaurant industry news site that restaurant executives and owners will be checking frequently,” noted Zambrano. “By combining amplifying our multimedia news platform and adding user-generated content, we diversify and improve our news and analysis. We welcome experts, executives and owners to tap into our platform.” Eatery Pulse Streem feeds news to restaurateurs wherever they are, providing news updates online on social media and Apple News, and in digital, (soonto-arrive) audio and video formats. To subscribe navigate to subscribe.eatery.news. To view restaurant news updates, click over to eaterypulse.com or watch videos on social media.
About Eatery Pulse Media Based in the Washington, D.C. market, Eatery Pulse Media is a primary source of national restaurant industry news and content, providing information services, consulting and a creative custom-content studio for business. As a multi-brand trade publisher, it delivers news content in multiple formats, including video broadcast. Eatery Pulse empowers foodservice professionals, business owners, and foodies to further engage and celebrate food and drink topics, as well as to profit and benefit from a growing food scene. RESTAURANT C-SUITE 9
Pizza trends By Rick Zambrano
Pizza’s positioning and recent trends
Affordability and taste profile make pizza a top food choice in America. Pizza is heading in many directions right now. Traditional, independent pizzerias and chains are competing with modern, fast-casual concepts that tout a more personalized and customized experience. Also, consumers are showing bifurcation as they embrace healthier eating, yet still view much of the pizza experience through the lens of indulgence. Two-thirds of restaurants feature pizza, but at specialized pizza restaurants it’s more popular, notes a Packaged Facts Pizza at Retail and Foodservice report. RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 10
Salads and salad bars can enhance the pizza experience and increase average checks. Pictured here: Chicken Harvest Salad at Donatos. Photo by Donatos Pizza.
Pizzerias and pizza chains well-positioned as consumers seek specialized pizza establishments Sixty-one percent of consumers surveyed by Packaged Facts said they are interested in ordering pizza from QSRs specializing in pizza. And 62 percent are interested in ordering from a specialized, full-service restaurant chain. According to Packaged Facts’ Eating Trends: Restaurant Use report, 38 percent of consumers order from pizza-and-pasta restaurants, making them the fourth largest category. Specialized pizza restaurants have unique positioning in the pizza category, but how can they leverage it? One significant way is to offer appetizers, pasta and salad dishes to draw incremental ordering and to cancel out non-pizza-eating veto votes. Another way is to offer both healthy and indulgent choices. As we’ve noted, Packaged Facts describes a dichotomy in the consumer usage of pizza. Some consumers are looking for healthier options; others are looking to escape the diet or routine involved in home cooking.
Thirty-three percent of pizza restaurant users order salad, so having salad choices or createyour-own salad bars can boost sales and appeal to customers. Twenty-two percent of users order appetizers and 18 percent order pasta. At California Pizza Kitchen, the menu lists salads that offer abundant creativity and variety. The Thai Crunch Salad, for example, offers “crisp veggies and fresh cilantro with chicken and the crunch of peanuts, wontons and rice sticks,” and is tossed in a Thai peanut dressing. Beyond salads, CPK offers Protein Bowls. These skew toward functionality and include the Shanghai Bowl, a mix of seared shrimp with black heirloom rice, baby broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots and watermelon radish, served with housemade Shanghai sauce. In conducting some research on the Gen Z consumer, Kara Nielsen, a well-respected trendologist who helps food and beverage companies understand trends to develop winning product development strategies, found that this generation is keen on customization. It would follow that fast casuals—even those that have struggled due to oversaturation—may still have a compelling RESTAURANT C-SUITE 11
fresh cheese), homemade sausage, friarielli (greens), roasted yellow tomato, Calabrian pepper, and provolone cheese. The Cacio & Pepe Pizza combines Cacio di Roma (sheep’s milk cheese from Rome), pecorino Romano, buffalo mozzarella, and toasted black pepper. Stellina was started by Antonio Matarazzo and Chef Matteo Venini. One important facet of preparing an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza is the oven used to cook it. Stellina purchased a stunning handcrafted Italian brick oven by Marra Forni, a brick oven company owned by two native Italian brothers and based in Beltsville, Md. The oven can cook the pizzas in two minutes flat. Another important aspect is the ingredients: the use of specialty cheeses and an attention to detail go a long way. One way to make pizza flavorful is a simple ingredient like cracked black pepper. Michael Watz, proprietor/ executive chef, Watz Your Culinary Professor, says “Crusts in general I think could benefit from the addition of cracked, black pepper— simple and easy for added flavor.” Octopus is a pizza ingredient that consumers may be interested in. Photo by Nikita Tikhomirov.
value proposition. This lies in the ability to offer customized pies that can be personalized to the nth degree in real time.
Trending ingredients and styles At the heart of specialized pizzerias and pizza chains is a love of pizza and fresh ingredients. Packaged Facts notes that basil saw its rise in the mid-part of the century and that overall, pizza lovers enjoy it. Prosciutto has also seen a surge over the last few years. With the rise of fast-casual pizza chains offering customization and choice, traditional pizzerias have doubled down on their craft and creativity. Neapolitan-style pizza is a trend that has taken hold, especially in urban markets. At Stellina Pizzeria, a popular, emerging pizzeria concept in Washington, D.C., the Carrettiera Pizza is made with Fiordilatte (semi-soft, RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 12
Different techniques and styles can make a pizza stand out. Watz recently traveled to Europe and observed how a few tweaks can produce a significant result. At a pizzeria in Puglia, Italy, he saw that using olive-oilinfused wood can enhance the flavor profile and create a scent that draws customers in. It’s free marketing, he suggested. As he traveled Europe, Watz noted some uncommon ingredients that could have their moments on American pies in the near future. He suggests octopus, calamari and cuttlefish. And grilled vegetables, roasted garlic and tomato confit are garnish ingredients that never go out of style, and always make pizza more flavorful.
Roman-style and Detroit-style pizza Nielsen notes that Pollara, a pizzeria in Berkeley, Calif., has been standing out from the crowd with its Roman-style pizza. These pizzas are made in a long pan and several styles can come from the same pan. Daily featured pizzas offer a rotating set of fresh, differentiated ingredients. Recently
Pollara featured a pizza with figs. The eclectic pizzeria has also offered anchovies, poached figs, copa, thinly-sliced prosciutto, and swiss chard. With its use of intriguing and unconventional ingredients, and its differentiated pizza style, Pollara scores big with customers. There is still plenty of room for artisanlike techniques and fresh, lesser-known ingredients. Nielsen noticed Detroit pizza a few years back when she stayed in Detroit for a project. A prime example is Buddy’s Pizza, now a chain of pizzerias, that originated in Detroit in 1946, and is tied to the trend’s roots. Farther west, Leaning Tower in Oakland Calif. is an impressive example. It carries a Detroit pie that is quite popular. The Focaccia Dough is pressed, and feels airy and light. The cheese fries against the pan. It makes one think of fried cheese, “which is having a moment, right now,” she says. Consumers are looking for something different, and this style is also comforting. Detroit-style pizza has also been trending in D.C. Two Detroit-style pizzerias offer a promising start, according to Washingtonian Magazine. In the Ivy City neighborhood, Della Barba offers customers takeout and delivery
pizza Motor City style. “Focaccia-like dough is pressed into steel pans. (Legend has it that the original pans were the blue steel sheets used to clean auto parts),” notes Washingtonian. The pizzas are then topped with Wisconsin Brick Cheese and a red sauce. The result is a crisp crust on the bottom and a soft, cheese top, which is said to be delicious. New York’s Emmy Squared will also arrive soon in D.C. and add to the options in the nation’s capital.
Standing out from the crowd “Something small can grow,” says Nielsen, but it needs to have roots. Right now, many artisans are working with food that has roots. At the core are very distinctive ingredients. Authenticity and an artisan story can make a pizza stand out. Also, look to high quality ingredients. Is there something special about the cheese elements or even the milk? Most of these can be threaded into the pizza pie’s story. Consumers today are food-smart and curious. “They bring a better understanding of food,” she adds. Specialized pizza makers can keep things fresh and attract business, as long as they can tell their story. In a crowded market, “you have to stand out in some way.”
Roman-style pizza at Pollara hits the mark. Photo by Pollara.
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Q&A | Pizza marketing strategies Sean Brauser, Cutting Edge Marketing What are some of the best ways to market America’s favorite pie? This has become a top concern among pizzeria owners as disruptors and newcomers enter the pizza category. Fastcasual chains have claimed market share but these concepts are now maturing. At the same time, nearly all restaurants are featuring a pizza on their menus due to its popularity. There’s definitely a need to fill seats and grow business in pizzerias around the country. For some effective tactics, we turned to Sean Brauser, CEO of Cutting Edge Marketing in this Q&A. Restaurant C-Suite Magazine: What are the biggest challenges for pizzerias, and pizza chains alike, as we enter 2020? Sean Brauser: The biggest challenge for pizza operators is maintaining their market share. Third party delivery, fast casual competition, the big chains’ constant marketing and growth, have taken a toll. The challenge all pizza operators face is differentiation of their brand. Staying top of mind is a nonstop battle with the number of choices consumers have. RCS: What are some of the elements of pizza marketing that can be successful in today’s digital age? SB: Digital marketing is critical in the pizza business. However throwing money at Facebook or Instagram and expecting consumers to act is the same as mailing 10,000 menus indiscriminately. The goal of all marketing in 2020 must be to capture consumer data: email, SMS, text, Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp...no data equals “one and done” marketing. RCS: Tell us about the best tactics pizza shops can deploy to be successful in growing. SB: We have developed a strategy that allows RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 14
Pizza marketing can be effective by leveraging data from social media. Photo by Benjamin Sow.
us to take consumer data and purchasing and create specific messaging that the customer will more likely respond to. For instance, we can send a family meal deal to a family and a pizza wing deal to a single guy. We can tailor these messages into tighter and tighter demographic and psychographic circles. This is the way marketing in the next decade will happen, and if you are not on that path you will be left behind. RCS: What are some strategies for growth that can often be overlooked in the pizza category? SB: The key for successful pizza marketing is to make emotional connections with consumers. The biggest thing operators ignore is local store marketing. Schools, businesses, hotels, sports teams, doctors, lawyers: create as many emotional connections as you can. Then continue to market to them based on the connection you made. Sean Brauser is an author, speaker, and an expert in restaurant marketing. Working with pizzerias and pizza chains of all sizes, he’s helped them grow sales double digits. He’s a lifelong entrepreneur and grew his own pizza business to $20M in sales.
SALADS ARE A PIZZA’S BEST FRIEND Salads and pizza are a good money-making team. With current food trends, “the general formula is putting something familiar with something new so part of the dish is calming and grounding, while another aspect is more experimental,” says Suzy Badaracco, Culinary Tides CEO, a top forensic trendologist. Is it time to change up your salad? Try these fun variations: • Ice water salads • Roots like beets, purple potatoes, tricolored carrots • New varietals like celtuce (new to us, common in Asia)
• Eastern Mediterranean – Persian cucumber, sumac, a sabzi platter • Dressing used as dips for a chance • Salad ingredients or styles tied to time in history or regional specialties
• Greek salads – riding tail of hummus trend Photo by Louis Hansel.
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Pizza landscape evolves Operators address a changing restaurant industry landscape as consumer preferences change By Eric Nomis
The pizza category is showing much resilience as consumers preferences change and evolve. There’s no indication that change will taper off during the next decade. The National Restaurant Association has already weighed in with its next-decade forecast, Restaurant Industry 2030: Actionable Insights for the Future. Off-premises business will continue to gain momentum. More diners will embrace dietaryand lifestyle-centric eating. There was a lot to digest in that report, and there’s much for pizza executives and owners to unpack as 2020 begins. In a highly competitive category and a restaurant industry that’s going through
transformation and disruption, it’s time to analyze and dig in. One way pizza chains are addressing change is by embracing diversity in pizza and focusing on choice for consumers. This is an important aspect of the business for Donatos Pizza. “Consumers want their pizza exactly when and where they want it,” says Tom Krouse, Donatos CEO. “The brands that can meet those demands will continue to flourish and grow.” Krouse also notes that pizzerias and chains are facing increased pressure on food and labor costs. Photo center: Boston’s Pizza provides off-premises options but its Appy Hour gives customers another reason to come into the restaurant. Photo by Boston’s Pizza.
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The Margherita Pizza is one of the Uno De-Lites menu choices, with a calorie count under 600. Photo by Uno Pizzeria and Grill.
“At Boston’s we meet our guests’ needs by offering a variety of ways they can enjoy a meal,” says Jeff Melnick, Boston’s Pizza International president. “We offer take-out, pick up, thirdparty delivery, some their own delivery, catering and late-night (service).” By providing greater choice, pizza chains can take a greater share of consumer dining occasions.
Embracing technology There are ways to increase efficiency and maintain margins through increased use of technology. According to the Restaurant Industry 2030 report, larger restaurant chains are seeking economies of scale through the use of robotics. Pizza manufacturers in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) arena already tap much automation to produce frozen pizzas that
maintain their freshness throughout the product life cycle. Now, restaurant chains will look to tap those same advancements. In the subject area of delivery, pizza operators have an advantage: This category was one of the earliest to offer the convenience of delivery to customers. As automation gains popularity, this category will embrace drone delivery, increased investment in keeping product warm, and robot delivery. Also, third-party app provider DoorDash is testing self-driving vehicle delivery with Cruise. Pilot programs like this one can be emulated by large pizza chains. At Boston’s, management is looking at technology to drive improved service and execution, says Melnick. Server tablets and pay-at-the-table technology are additional ways
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Healthy and dietary focus of consumers A growing number of consumers want healthy and dietary-centric options and that’s an issue pizza operators must address. Uno Pizzeria and Grill recently added options for dietary-centric customers and reorganized its menu via its Love All Feed All menu. Customers who are caloriecounting, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-sensitive, dairy-free and/or carb-conscious now have ample choices. Uno added plant-based Daiya (non-dairy) cheese, and now offers vegan pizza toppings, including Classic Beyond Burger, from Beyond Meat. Five new vegan options provide customers a way to build over 16,000 possible combinations. Uno has a carb-conscious category as well, and offers gluten-sensitive choices. “I am incredibly proud of this new menu, one that will appeal to a broad range of new guests, thanks partly to plant-based offerings from Beyond Meat and Daiya Foods,” said Andre Fuehr, Uno executive chef, at the time of the announcement. Regina Pizzeria is an iconic pizza shop in the North End of Boston, Mass. that has stood the test of time (since 1926). Photo by Valentin Wallet.
Boston’s will improve the customer experience. In addition a new, smaller prototype, imagined for today’s on-the-go customer, debuts soon. Krouse adds “Focusing on delivery and utilizing technology even better for convenience and efficiency will also set the leading brands apart from everyone else.” Another pizza chain that has embraced technology is Domino’s pizza. Starting with its mobile app experience in 2014 and continuing with investment in many areas of pizza operations, Domino’s has certainly been a leader. Retail Dive explored the Domino’s pizza innovation at the time, noting that pizza chains would be smart to invest in an enhanced mobile experience. The minute-to-minute tracking of pizza is similar to what third-party delivery apps now provide to their users. The experience differs among platforms. Uber Eats’ tracking of orders has certainly arisen as an advanced application. Domino’s was an early adopter of the real-time food-delivery tracking that consumers now require. RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 18
Uno also provides its guests with 15 vegetarian ingredients to customize their meatless pizzas. For calorie counters, the Uno De-Lites menu offers multiple options of dishes containing 600 or fewer calories. Thin crust pizzas offer a bounty of choice: fresh spinach, creamy goat cheese and caramelized onions; wild mushroom and aged cheddar; roasted garlic, grilled chicken, caramelized onions and goat cheese; and roasted eggplant, fresh spinach, pesto and feta. “Heading into the new year, expect to see a big push in the pizza industry towards healthierfor-you and plant-based pizza options,” says Krouse. “Consumers are more conscious than ever about what they eat.” Donatos Pizza menu offers a Very Vegy pizza, as well as the Vegan. It’s Greek to Me Pizza. The latter is a veg fest: banana peppers, black olives, roasted garlic, green pepper, onions, and roma tomatoes on a vegan crust. At sister chain in Canada, Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza, Restaurant and Sports Bar debuted a Christmas Pizza, with turkey and all the fixings, says Melnick. “Seems a stretch at first blush,
but it highlights that the platform is unlimited... we (also) have dessert pizza, vegan, vegetarian, it’s about the chef blending the flavors, to make them approachable and intriguing to those who are looking for something outside the traditional flavors of old.”
Providing a convenient experience PIzza operators can also focus on improving the guest experience and recognizing consumers are in charge. Consumers expect convenience: “Ordering pizza for delivery is one of the most convenient food options there is and we’ve designed our (Donatos’) app to allow customers to reorder a previous favorite order with the click of a button,” Krouse adds. A study that was prepared by Technomic and published by the National Restaurant Industry addressed specific insights regarding offpremises business. One of the findings in the report Harnessing Technology to Drive OffPremises Sales, is that 43 percent of consumers use restaurant apps to order food delivery, yet
only 18 percent of restaurants offer ordering apps. Pizzerias and pizza chains cannot afford to fall behind competitors and third-party app providers in this regard. Another way that pizza operators can enhance the guest experience is by designing pizzerias that recognize the rising volume of to-go business. Donatos Pizza restaurants are designed to provide a comfortable in-dining experience; at the same time, the chain also offers ample room for pick up transactions. Benches and waiting areas accommodate pickup guests, and allow enough room for queuing at peak sales periods. Pizza operators have multiple advantages. They understand convenience and are working with a product that offers great value and has decades of investment. Pizza also travels well and is easy to keep fresh and warm. As they enter 2020, operators can leverage these advantages to stay ahead of other restaurant food categories and continue to offer a superior, convenient experience.
The variety of pizza choices and occasions at Donatos appeals to today’s finicky consumer. Photo by Donatos Pizza.
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Pizza trending in D.C. By Lisa Comento
The first recorded pizzeria, Da Pietro in Naples, was founded in 1760. The inexpensive street food fed many of the dock workers in those days. The basic toppings consisted of tomatoes, cheese, olive oil, anchovies and garlic. In modern times, pizza is a favorite food throughout the United States. Pizza has come a long way since its days as a flatbread street food that was folded up to eat. Washington, D.C. is home to a variety of unique pizza restaurants, from authentic pizzerias to local chains. In this article, we feature three wellestablished Washington, D.C. pizza spots.
Pizzeria Paradiso Chef/Owner Ruth Gresser opened the first Pizzeria Paradiso in DuPont in November 1991. There are now five locations throughout D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. Gresser’s initial inspiration was to create an enjoyable space for her guests. She and her team have built and strong foundation over the years and it shows. When the DuPont location opened, on the first floor inside a converted townhouse, it was so small that the closet held both their office and the ice machine. Each time they made a phone call they had to unplug the ice machine. One other fun fact about Pizzeria Paradiso is when young children would leave their toys behind after dining the staff would use them to decorate the restaurant. Gresser stresses, “the importance of being a part of the larger community, supporting local non-profits focusing primarily on the arts and women’s issues. Currently, we are engaged in a year-long initiative called the United States of Pizza which focuses on women’s leadership,” she said about one of the organizations they represent. One element that makes Pizzeria Paradiso stand out from the other pizzerias is their broad selection of independent craft beers. Customers can always count on trying something unique to pair with their pizza.
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enroll in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduating at the top of his CIA class, Friedman worked for Jose Andres at Zaytinya for two years. He expanded his culinary knowledge by traveling abroad, eating his way through Italy, Greece, Turkey and North Africa. He continued his culinary education by working at restaurants in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York. Friedman returned to D.C. as executive sous chef of Proof under the tutelage of Executive Chef Haidar Karoum. In 2017, Friedman was recognized as a James Beard Award semifinalist. The success of his Shaw location inspired him to open his second All-Purpose location at the Riverfront. On the menu, he offers antipasti, classic Italian American dishes and deck oven-fired pizzas.
Chef Mike Friedman of All-Purpose Shaw.
They offer a delicious variety of pizzas from traditional Neapolitan-style to Di Mare with shrimp and mussels. Guests look forward to the weekly pizza, salad and beer specials.
All-Purpose Pizzeria Chef/Owner Michael Friedman of All-Purpose Shaw opened his first location in Spring 2016 and his second at the Capitol Riverfront in Spring 2018. He is also the chef and owner of The Red Hen located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, open since 2014. “All-Purpose is a love letter to my youth growing up in New York and New Jersey, and what better way to convey that than deck ovenstyle pizza?” Friedman said about what inspired him to open All-Purpose. He grew up in Westfield, New Jersey eating New York-style pizza. His first professional cooking opportunity was as a prep cook with Mon Ami Gabi. Shortly thereafter his passion for cooking led him to
“Autumn is by far my favorite season and that definitely carries over to the menus,” Friedman said about the upcoming menu for the fall. “I’m getting jazzed about prosciutto san Daniele with creme fraiche, horseradish, green apple and aged balsamic vinegar. Expect spaghetti squash with lemon, brown butter and sage. Look out for the Emilia pizza with parmesan fonduta, montasio, wild mushrooms, sweet onion & thyme.”
Stellina Pizzeria Stellina Pizzeria is the popular new kid on the block this year since opening in April. Owners Antonio Matarazzo and Chef Matteo Venini have been friends for over ten years, and are no strangers to the D.C. food scene. Matarazzo was the founder and owner Lupe Verde on 14th Street where Venini was the head chef. The pizzeria is located in the Union Market District that seems to have exploded overnight with scores of restaurants like St. Anselm and Bidwell run by well-known local chefs. “The neighborhood is helping out a lot and the locals have been very supportive,” Photo center: All-Purpose Pizzeria is an innovator. Photo by All-Purpose.
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Matarazzo said about how the neighborhood has embraced their pizzeria. Matarazzo is from Avellino, Italy located in the Campania region near Naples. Venini is from Como located in the Lombardy region near Milan. They do a masterful job of including dishes and flavors from their respective regions on their menu. Their pizzeria is lovingly named after Matarazzo’s daughter, Stella. One important facet of preparing an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza is the oven used to cook it. Stellina’s purchased a stunning handcrafted Italian brick oven by Marra Forni. The brick oven company is owned by two native Italian brothers and based in Beltsville, MD. The oven can cook the pizzas in two minutes flat.
Stellina Pizzeria was recently named as a Michelin Bib-Gourmand restaurant and they are beyond proud to be recognized.
Post-interview update: Matarazzo and Matteo will open a second Stellina Pizzeria in Mount Vernon Triangle in D.C. next spring, reports Washington City Paper. They’re coming off the opening of a pastry shop called Annaré in D.C.’s Union Market December 16. Annaré, which comes from Anna—the name of Matarazzo’s mother and grandmother—operates as a pop-up for one year. The owners desire the dessert-shop pop-up to be its own permanent concept in the future. Matarazzo and Venini hired Dayron Santamaria as pastry chef. There’s a lot in store in the coming year for the owners of Stellina Pizzeria.
(From left to right) Owners Antonio Matarazzo and Chef Matteo Venini. Photo by Stellina Pizzeria.
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