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July 6, 2015, Montreal – An online financing operation based in Montreal provides an alternative to banks and traditional financial institutions by offering merchant cash advances that are repaid through debit card and credit card sales. The Montreal Gazette reports. | READ MORE
July 3, 2015, Edmonton – Alberta’s general minimum wage will increase to $11.20 from $10.20 per hour on Oct. 1.
When you’re a small business, marketing can be the biggest challenge. There are a few old staples out there: the door-hangers and discount coupons. Maybe you’ve even stepped away from the oven for a moment and tried a little direct marketing or gotten creative with some pizza-box messaging. So what’s next in the constant battle to stand out in the crowd?Consumer buying habits in the pizza business are a fickle thing. What’s hot and spicy one day, can be cold and old the next. But one thing is for sure, they’re evolving rapidly, and expanding your reach in the market requires some ingenuity and understanding of what influences the purchase.A survey by the online marketing company MultiVisionDigital found that consumers are 64 per cent more likely to buy something after watching a video. The same study also suggests that videos have a four-year marketing lifespan – providing one of the best vehicles out there for sharing your brand message.The big hit, says digital signage expert Brooke Watson, of EyeLook Media, is “turning the boring wait time into a valuable marketing experience.”Watson, whose company has a number of restaurant installations, says the customer’s perception of wait times in the foodservice industry is far different from that in other services.“That’s why a lot of restaurants write down the time you arrived – people tend to think ‘we’ve been waiting an hour’ when really it’s only been 15 to 20 minutes. It can be very easy to create a bad customer experience – but we want to take that and create a positive experience.”The role video can play in that is by providing the customer something to focus on. Psychology already suggests video is processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than print. And it’s much better at seduction – convincing the viewer to make a buying decision. Reading is about thinking, whereas video is about feeling.“Video, today, is really important. Everyone is so visual; and it’s the best way to evoke emotion. Without that emotion, you’re not reaching people,” says Cheryl Weedmark, a London-based video producer.And she says the most effective video strategy goes beyond a single platform.“A video needs to be searchable, and not just on a website,” she says. “It must be part of a bigger social media strategy – something you can build a campaign around.”Most operations these days have dabbled in online promotion – either through a traditional social media platform like Facebook and Twitter, or through the more niche-driven Instagram and Pinterest. Our world is already connected and growing more so each day. In Canada, there are 28 million cellphone users, and one in five households use only cell service as the primary phone.Nielsen, the folks that bring us TV ratings, reports that YouTube reaches more people in the 18 to 34 demographic than cable TV. Internet statistics continually support that it is also the second most used search engine after Google.The big picture is we’re rapidly breaking away from traditional methods of obtaining information – and traditional ways of influencing a buying decision. And Canadians have the highest social media engagement level globally – 82 per cent have at least one active social media account.As such, video allows you to connect with consumers on a far deeper level than traditional print marketing pieces. With effective storytelling and a human element, your customers will begin to see you as more than just an easy alternative to cooking at home.The trick is to focus on what your customer cares about – and that may require you to accept that what you think they care about may, in fact, be wrong.“The consumer has most of the influence these days,” Watson says. “That’s a complete reversal of 10 years ago.”Testing is a vital part of the success in any visual campaign. Watson says it shouldn’t be done any differently from how a pizzeria tests new menu items.“You might have five new pizzas that you think are amazing, but the customer may only agree with you on one of those. The market dictates what it likes, so always be testing. It definitely pays off.”Tell the storyFrom a pizzeria perspective, Weedmark says video is an excellent way to extend the storytelling, by focusing not on the owner but rather on those key clients who will help connect people. “Think about that busy mom who comes in on a Friday, but she needs to have a gluten-free option, or a vegetarian option – or get out to the local farm to talk about the importance of fresh ingredients.”Keeping up with food trends can be tough. Organic, local, artisan, gluten-free – there are as many new takes on what we put in our bodies as there are combinations for what we can put on our pies.Storytelling is the key – and is what will provide more longevity to the marketing value of a well-made video. The extension to that is the concept of building a series, perhaps designed to be released over an extended period of time, with each new release adding to the previous story. For example, if the strategy is to highlight the value of the ingredients, the chain of videos can be layered much like preparing the pizza itself, building from the dough up.Another huge trend, Weedmark says, is focusing on the heritage behind the family business – and in a pizzeria that could mean anything from talking about what makes “Grandma’s sauce recipe” so unique to the values of a multi-generational operation.Content doesn’t necessarily have to be strictly focused on marketing, she adds. There’s a lot to be said for creating a story that people will see the value in – and that means going back to those emotional attachments. Sharing the customer experience, solving a problem, educating or merely showing appreciation will help trigger the human connection.Going viralEveryone wants the viral video, but when your traditional delivery area isn’t global, how will one million views benefit your core business?“Video is getting a lot more accessible to people these days,” Weedmark says. “But don’t shortchange on the quality. There is a huge demand for good-quality video – not something filmed on someone’s smartphone. These days content is forever; and the average person doesn’t have time for poor quality.”And while she says the best option – and not as expensive an option as people might think given the longevity of a good video campaign – is to use a production company. Weedmark doesn’t rule out the idea of self-producing. “Just use good equipment. With so much of it being available in high-definition, there shouldn’t be an excuse to use a cellphone. Even when you look at some of the best viral videos out there, you can tell there was some thought and quality put into them.”The other hook – clean audio, she says. “Yes, you need the picture, but if people can’t hear it, they’re not going to pay any attention to it.”“Dynamic media is much more engaging,” Watson says. “Can you imagine sitting there waiting and watching this steaming hot pizza coming out of the oven, the cheese bubbling . . . that imagery is far more engaging than looking at a poster.”If you’ve spent any time trying to grasp the changing way technology affects today’s consumer, think of it this way – video traffic is predicted to count for almost 70 per cent of consumer Internet traffic by 2017. Do you have a plan to be a part of that? What makes great videos?London-based video producer Cheryl Weedmark says a video needs to be three things at all times: engaging informative entertaining “If you can do these three, you’ll have a great marketing tool for your business,” she says. “And if you can, try to narrow down your target to be as specific as possible. Speak to a specific demographic; don’t try to be everything to everyone.”By the numbersHere are some statistics that point to the growing power of video: 55% of consumers watch a video on a mobile platform at least once per week four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it 84% of consumers say they have “liked” a company video in their newsfeed on social media nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer a video to be 60 seconds or less –February 2015 Animoto web survey
By now we must all be feeling the pinch on our bank accounts because of the rise of minimum wage across the country. Here in Manitoba, we’re at $10.70 an hour. For the record, I’ve always paid my best staff more than minimum wage. In fact, most of my best staff were already earning $10.70 an hour.
Businesses grow two ways: by selling more to existing customers and by getting new customers.
The summer holidays can bring many tourists to your city or community and a lot more local customers into your neighbourhood for events and summer activities.
June 29, 2015, Vancouver – A minimum-wage hike like Alberta's recently announced rise to $15, could have a devastating effect on the province's restaurant industry, said the president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
June 30, 2015, Denver, CO – A 19-year-old pizza delivery person performed CPR and helped with a potentially life-saving rescue, The Denver Post reports. | READ MORE
June 24, 2015, Toronto – Among other skills, promising new hires display analytical ability and the desire to learn and work hard, writes Rahim Charania of the Youth Entrepreneur Council for The Globe and Mail. | READ MORE
June 23, 2015, Toronto – Canadian small business owners looking to save money on credit and debit card transactions say the company they signed with ripped them off, in some cases for thousands of dollars. CBC News' Go Public reports. | READ MORE
June 19, 2015, Edmonton – More than 800 Alberta business owners, managers, employees and customers have signed an online petition calling on the provincial government to modify its minimum wage plan. 
June 11, 2015, Toronto – Canada is increasingly becoming a "food delivery nation" as demand for online food delivery has seen a significant increase in the past year and continues to grow, according to an online restaurant ordering service.
June 25, 2015 – Shade Grafix will custom-design a variety of pull-down shades to advertise facing inside or outside your restaurant window.
June 17, 2015 – Granbury Restaurant Solutions is launching Thrive, a point-of-sale system that integrates credit card payment. The company worked with pizza industry people to design a system specifically for mom-and-pop pizzerias, a representative said at the company’s booth at Pizza Expo.
June 10, 2015 – The folks from Perfect Crust exhibited a bakeable pizza tray at Pizza Expo in Las Vegas in March.
April 17, 2015 – Bunge’s new lactose-free, non-dairy Creamy Cooking Sauce serves as a vegan-friendly cream replacement for sauces, soups and desserts.
Feb. 25, 2015 – A new book focusing on pizza surveys more than 60 pizzerias in major cities to capture each region’s unique definition of the ideal pizza and provides tips, tricks, and more than 50 pizza recipes.
Feb. 24, 2015 –  Food Warming Equipment offers a line of heated holding cabinets designed to eliminate cold and hot spots through circulation.
Jan. 15, 2015 – ShopKeep Pocket is a mobile reporting application that enables merchants to quickly access their business data in real time, wherever they are.
Nov. 26, 2014 – Feel the love this Valentine’s Day with American Metalcraft’s heart-shaped pizza pans.
Nov. 17, 2014 – SCA has launched five new customizable dispensers as part of its Xpressnap Signature line.
Nov. 10, 2014 – Betco Corporation has launched Spectaculoso, a lavender-fragranced ingredient used in the company's Fastdraw line of multi-purpose cleaners.
  Nov. 1, 2014 – Restaurants looking to increase their competitive advantage for “to-go” and over-the-counter sales of proprietary recipes, soups, salsas, sauces may want to check out the Seal-a-Cup System from Wilpack Packaging.
Sept. 20, 2014 – Umami Essence Sea Salt is designed to enhance and boost flavour in homemade recipes, while helping to reduce sodium.
Last October, Fernando D’Agostino did himself and his boss proud, putting together a signature pie that landed him in third place at the Canadian Pizza Chef of the Year competition sponsored by Saputo Foodservice and Moretti Forni.“It was already on our menu, but we tweaked it a bit,” says the slightly shy young chef.It was D’Agostino’s first pizza competition and he seems to take the pressure in stride. “We had the dough ready-made and the ingredients prepared,” he says. “If anything, using a different oven in an unfamiliar setting was the biggest challenge.”D’Agostino has worked at That’s Italian Ristorante in Woodbridge, Ont., for the past two years.It was restaurant owner Joe Lombardi’s idea for Fernando to enter the competition and Lombardi’s recipe made it to the podium with him, D’Agostino says. Lombardi says his superstar pizzaiolo was able to channel his pride in what he does to overcome his modesty and excel on the competition floor.The restaurant, which opened a smaller location called That’s Italian Express in Richmond Hill in October 2013, has been in business since 2008. Lombardi is part of Toronto pizza history, his father having opened Regina (an offshoot of city institution Vesuvio’s) on College Street in 1982.Many of the restaurant’s customers – particularly those in Richmond Hill – are of Asian background, Lombardi says, and many are well travelled and looking for an authentic Italian eating experience that matches their old-country experience. They seem to really appreciate the food, he says, often asking staff which items they recommend, snapping photos of their dishes and expressing delight when offered a frequent-customer perk such as a complimentary limoncello liqueur.D’Agostino likes his work and especially the fact that at That’s Italian, pizza is treated with just as much importance as any item on the menu. It’s not just an afterthought, he says. “It makes me feel appreciated,” he says.He doesn’t have formal chef training, but started his working career as a teenager at a local Brampton, Ont., pizzeria where he and his family ate every Friday night.“My parents asked if they would give me a job,” D’Agostino says. While the food business was not a deliberate choice of vocation, he warmed to the work as he gradually took on more and more responsibility.The Sidernese is named for the town of Siderno in the Calabria region of Italy. D’Agostino enjoys making this house specialty pizza because it demands extra attention to detail and extra time spent to make it visually appealing. “You have to place everything evenly, and you can’t have two much of one topping in one spot,” he says.D’Agostino loves to play tennis in his spare time. And when he’s not whipping up thin-crust pizzas himself, the young foodie enjoys checking out pizzas at other restaurants.He says, “Sometimes people ask me if they would like a certain topping on a pizza. I don’t think there are any limitations on pizza. I tell them, “If you like something off a pizza, you’ll like it on a pizza.”Indeed, there seem few limits to what this pizzaiolo can do. The Sidernese The Sidernese   View the embedded image gallery online at: The SiderneseHere is Fernando D’Agostino’s third-place recipe for Canadian Pizza Chef of the Year.INGREDIENTS pizza dough, store-bought or homemade fresh baby arugula buffalo mozzarella oven-dried (or sun-dried) tomatoes Italian prosciutto crudo shaved Parmigiano Reggiano or Grano Padano extra virgin olive oil flour EQUIPMENT pizza stone or baking sheet pizza peel (or the back of a baking sheet) INSTRUCTIONS Heat the oven to 550 F or higher: Don’t be afraid to really crank the heat up to its highest setting. The high heat will help make a crunchier and more flavourful crust. Let the oven heat for at least a half an hour before baking your pizzas. If you have a baking stone, place it in the lower-middle area of your oven. Roll out the dough:Method 1: Baking stone – Sprinkle a handful of flour on a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet. Use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the pizza dough until it is 1/4-inch thick or less. Shake the peel or baking sheet often as you shape to make sure the dough isn’t sticking. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for five minutes and then continue rolling.Method 2: Baking sheet – Brush a thin film of olive oil on a baking sheet. Use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick or less. Place it on the sheet. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for five minutes and then continue rolling. Top the pizza: Spread your mozzarella cheese evenly on your pizza.  The rest of the toppings will be put on the pizza in stages. Bake the pizza: Using a pizza peel or the backside of a baking sheet, slide your pizza onto the baking stone. If you don’t have a baking stone, bake the pizza right on the baking sheet. Cook for 10 minutes. Pull the pizza out and top with the buffalo mozzarella. It melts quickly and doesn’t need a lot of time in the oven.Bake for another three to five minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese looks toasty.Once the pizza comes out of the oven, top it with the arugula. You can toss the arugula in a light vinaigrette before applying as well. Next, top the pizza with the thinly sliced prosciutto and shaved Parmigiana Reggiano. Slice and serve: Let the pizza cool slightly on a cooling rack.
June 25, 2015, Tillsonburg, Ont. – A pizza tradition ended in Tillsonburg, Ont., this week when Bill's Pizza closed its doors after employing three generations of the Baxter family. The Tillsonburg News reports. | READ MORE
June 11, 2015, Prince Edward County, Ont. – Three eateries on Prince Edward County's unofficial Great Pizza & Wine Trail cook their pizzas in wood-burning outdoor ovens built by hand from the ground up, The Great Waterway reports. | READ MORE
June 4, 2015, Redondo Beach, FL – A new restaurant, Orlando’s Pizzeria and Birreria, in Redondo Beach, Fla., serves Canadian and Italian food. Easy Reader News reports. | READ MORE
Our 2015 Canadian Pizza Chef of the Year runner-up, Vito Dachille of Enoteca Mozza Pizzeria Moderna in Laval, Que., said he really enjoyed his first taste of competing in the International Pizza Challenge at Pizza Expo in March. From the seemingly permanent smile on his face, it’s not likely he was exaggerating.
Kathryn and Dave Kitchen have turned the notion of paying it forward into something of an art form.
Carlo Raillo successfully defended his title of Canadian Pizza Chef of the Year title for the second time – and he didn’t pull it off by playing it safe.
About a decade ago, the Covone family decided Montreal’s Little Italy pizza scene was missing something. That something was Napoletana pizza.
Meghan O’Dea didn’t intend to create a pizzeria with a mathematical theme when she founded Pi Gourmet Eatery in 2008 in her hometown of St. John’s, N.L.
Taking a new business idea from concept to grand opening in under six months is no easy feat, but the co-founders of Pannizza Restaurants had a concept that was too good to sit on.
For Steve Silvestro, food is all about simplicity. Over the years, he’s sampled some of the world’s most deliciously expensive cuisines and treated his palate to world-class exotic dishes, but if he had to choose one final meal (or two) to savour – the choice would be a no-brainer.
Phil DiLosa had a good job as a linotype operator at The Globe and Mail in the early 1960s.
Vegetables seems to be coming into their own lately.
June 30, 2015, Stratford, Ont. – Despite problems with interprovincial trade, innovators such as an Ontario water buffalo dairy that produces homegrown cheese are leading the way to growth, writes Owen Roberts for The Guelph Mercury. | READ MORE
June 25, 2015, San Francisco, CA – A U.S. class action lawsuit against popular brands of olive oil also sold in Canada alleges the products are neither "made in Italy" nor "extra virgin" as the labels say. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
June 19, 2015, Vancouver – Eating healthy has become more expensive for British Columbians this past year as rising fresh vegetable prices led the way in last month’s inflation bump, Business Vancouver reports. | READ MORE
June 12, 2015, Orangeville, Ont. – Vaughan, Ont.-based Quality Cheese Inc. has received a provincial grant of $1.2 million to build a specialty cheese plant in Orangeville, Ont., and anticipates the plant will be ready early in 2016, Better Farming reports. | READ MORE
June 10, 2015, Toronto – Major food companies are changing and reformulating products removing artificial ingredients – synthetic dyes, flavouring and preservatives, but some changes occurring in the U.S. are not being offered in Canada. Global News reports. | READ MORE
Consumers’ increased desire for local artisanal products, along with an expanding palate, is driving growth in the Canadian cheese market. As this market continues to mature, an array of innovative new cheeses are being developed, giving pizzaiolos across the country an opportunity to incorporate exciting new flavours and textures into their menus.
I’m a big fan of cheeses. Much as I believe that Canada’s present dairy class pricing system is entirely unjust, I’m hopelessly in love with Canadian cheeses.
This training video from Pagliacci Pizza in Seattle demonstrates how to hand toss pizza dough.
Victoria's Pizzeria Prima Strada shares its philosophy on preparing this most basic element of their pies.
For some operators, getting the gum line right is a big problem. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve the gum line on your pie.
As a consultant, I get a recurring question: “How much should a large pepperoni pizza cost?” When I ask the current selling price of their large pepperoni pizza, I get a variety of answers.
July 6, 2015, Minneapolis, MN – In the U.S. Midwest, particularly along the Mississippi River in Minnesota and Wisconsin, small family-run farms are turning their crops into pizzas. CNN reports. | READ MORE
July 6, 2015, Minneapolis, MN – In the U.S. Midwest, particularly along the Mississippi River in Minnesota and Wisconsin, small family-run farms are turning their crops into pizzas. CNN reports. | READ MORE
July 6, 2015, Minneapolis, MN – In the U.S. Midwest, particularly along the Mississippi River in Minnesota and Wisconsin, small family-run farms are turning their crops into pizzas. CNN reports. | READ MORE
June 22, 2015, Washington, DC – Fast-casual chain &pizza has launched &WINE, a pair of custom red and white wines designed to complement their pizzas and available by the glass and bottle.
June 18, 2015, Toronto – Falanghina, the signature white wine of Italy’s southern Campania region, is light, crisp and delicately fruity and floral, an eye-opening match for pizza margherita, The Globe and Mail food columnist writes. | READ MORE
June 16, 2015, London, U.K. – Canadian age 35 and under place a high priority on short-term rewards and are as likely to put extra dollars towards paying off debt as they are to dine out, says a report on Canadian spending from Mintel.
June 9, 2015, Dallas, TX – Building on the idea of Google's Cardboard, Pizza Hut, in its latest marketing campaign, has transformed a few limited edition pizza boxes into make-shift movie projectors. Phandroid reports. | READ MORE
Never mind Vegas and all of its charms. If you love learning about every aspect of pizza from the best and watching innovative pizzaiolos in action, Pizza Expo is a vacation destination unto itself.
Shin Min-chul of Mr. Pizza was crowned freestyle acrobatics dough tossing champ at the World Pizza Games held in Las Vegas March 25. Here he wows an enthusiastic crowd.
Watch how a NASA-funded 3-D food printer makes pizza! Anjan Contractor, creator of the printer, says the machine can cook the pizza in about 70 seconds.
Pizza is so much more than an affordable meal option for hungry and tired Canadians.
There’s only one event in Canada where you can get the latest pizza industry knowledge while watching Canada’s top pizzaiolos compete for the title of Chef of the Year – and it all went down in Toronto on Oct. 27.

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