Welcome to our Pizzeria of the Year issue! We like to think of it as your issue in which we celebrate Canadian pizzerias and the essential place you have in your communities. Frankly we could write a book about you guys!
For now, we will focus on celebrating the stories and activities of as many pizzerias as possible!
Congratulations to Pizzeria of the Year Alimo’s Pizzeria in Slave Lake, Alta.! This much-loved business won the hearts of judges with its story of taking good deeds and paying them forward with creativity and energy. Co-owners Moe and Ali Mouallem have amazing instincts and timing when it comes to building awareness about important causes and rallying the masses.
“The opportunity to read all of the entries, it’s just so heartwarming,” said Elaine O’Doherty, marketing manager, Canada, for contest sponsor Ardent Mills, who helped judge the entries. “Whether you’re a franchisee or an independent operator, you’re the foundation of Canada.”
“Every time I reread [Alimo’s] entry, it resonated more and more,” O’Doherty said in our YouTube channel reveal of the winners. “From their Random Acts of Pizza – what a great story . . . and to take that campaign and run with it, I think that’s just great.”
Alimo’s “Pizza for Everybody” campaign (symbolized by the inclusivity wall you see on our cover) also resonated with O’Doherty. “That show of community and diversity and inclusion is something that I think we all really, really need right now.”
Her colleague Reid McEachran added, “I really felt such a strong element of not only community engagement – but community leadership!”
This comment from our winners tells you all you need to know about Alimo’s: “We acknowledge that we are nothing without our community. Our commitment to our community, we feel, will strengthen our community, as well as our business. We asked ourselves, why be just a pizzeria, when we can use our reach and influence to be so much more.”
These hardworking brothers have won a trip to Pizza Expo in Las Vegas – a much-needed getaway, they told us!
O’Doherty, McEachran and fellow judges Canadian Pizza’s Stephanie Jewell, Kathryn Nyenhuis and yours truly were impressed and moved by the creativity and community engagement shown by so many pizzerias.
We wanted to highlight as our runner-up a business that stood out by the sheer volume of their activities, its smart marketing and its commitment to supporting local in every way possible: Joes Family Pizzeria & Poutinerie of Pembroke, Ont. Joe and Natacha Ward’s innovative giveaways, coupons, free pizzas, social media activity and latest pizza kit expansion with local grocery stores will have you cheering (and thinking about promotions for your own place).
When we put out the call for entries we heard from an exciting and inspiring array of businesses. You showed us how you innovate, support and motivate.
It comes down to stories. Every entry had a story to tell and ideas to share. We are honoured that 28 businesses opened up about their pizza journey and, to celebrate, we present snapshots of these great businesses and some of the many ways they engage their communities.
After reading about the smart, creative and just plain good things these pizzerias are doing, we’re confident you’ll take away a handful of ideas and inspiration for your own business.
We hope you’ll see yourselves and your pizzeria in these stories!
Happy reading and here’s to a roaring-back summer!
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