Canadian Pizza Magazine

From the Editor: Loving local helps your pizzeria stand out

By By Colleen Cross   

Features Business and Operations Community involvment independent pizzerias local food local pizzeria tips for pizzerias

Roman pepperoni pizza from The Lock, Port Colborne, Ont. Photo: Canadian Pizza

How much love do you have for local? This could be a differentiating factor for your pizzeria.

Supporting trusted suppliers, farms and other businesses is about more than geography or sourcing ingredients from within 100 miles.

Local is a philosophy and a way of focusing your business.

My community of Norfolk County, Ontario, takes great pride in promoting local businesses and events. Known as Ontario’s Garden, the county’s tourism department has a fun campaign that’s been building for years: “Find your folk!” Locals sell t-shirts and other merchandise and the tagline shows up on the radio, in newspapers and pretty much everywhere.

One event we enjoy, and that involves pizzerias, restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries in a big way, is the Eat & Drink Norfolk held on a weekend in April. It’s a sampling, socializing food-loving festival. This year they added an after-party pavillion to hold more musical acts and keep the fun going into the evening.

Another popular event is the charity soup lunch traditionally held in November. Attendees pay by voluntary donation and sample, soups, chowders, sandwiches, pizzas, desserts and more at the different vendors – all local food and beverage businesses. Money raised helps local food banks. The county and other sponsors help defray the costs. 

Several local businesses use strawberry syrup and juice from a popular farm, greenhouse and strawberry business. Local barbecue sauce, sunflower cooking oils, local butchers are a few of the suppliers local eateries love to use and promote.

If you can find that perfect partner – maybe someone you work with already – tell your customers! Let them know why your pizzas, panzerotties or pastas taste so good. Your customers love to know your story and stories of other local businesses. 

For this same reason, they will support you in good times and in trying times.

Local is closely related to quality. When you raise up other local businesses, people will understand that you are committed to quality: freshness, traceability, accountability, best practices, social responsibility.

Good-quality ingredients and good businesses are good to do business with and can become one of the family, so to speak.

The pizzerias on our road trip this issue all have deep local ties and commitment to their communities and respect for their customers. For operators like these folks, the quality is the whole point of opening a pizzeria and the reason they continue to work the long hours with smiles on their faces and to delight favourite customers.

Moo’s Pizza in Cobble Hill, B.C., for example, is always generous with their toppings and customers love them for it. What they really love is that Moo’s supports all of the local sports teams, raises funds for neighbours in need and advertises other local businesses on their delivery fleet. Famous Peppers in Prince Edward Island leans heavily on local farm distribution networks to proudly use P.E.I. ingredients, cures their own meats and is striving to make all of their menu vegan-friendly – a daunting task that says a lot about their desire to include everyone in the Famous Peppers experience. These operators and others we profile are thriving and growing their businesses.

These proudly independent pizzerias are proof that quality – in ingredients and in best practices – draws and keeps great customers. The customers you want to return again and again.

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