Movers and shakers
By Laura Aiken
To say that pizza is a wallflower among foods is about as erroneous a description as one can come by.
To say that pizza is a wallflower among foods is about as erroneous a description as one can come by. There is nothing underwhelming about pizza. Pizza is passion. Pizza is madness. Pizza is the Picasso of one-dish culinary art. And, without a doubt, the world would be a duller place without the pizzaiolo. Let’s celebrate the spirit of pizza with a nod to some of the entrepreneurs shaking up the Canadian pizza scene.
We’ve put together a “Movers and shakers” article to highlight what we think are some of the most unique, progressive and just plain cool concepts that are redefining how pizzerias serve their customers. Canadian Pizza magazine is all about you, but we know you are all about your customers. Starting on page 12, we’re taking you on a little trip outside the proverbial pizza box and into a land where soon we might see more pizzerias opening that look just like these. Pizza is reinventing itself by being whatever it needs to be to whoever wants it, whether it’s a classical Napoletana wood-fired pie, a hearty and heavily topped best-consumed-with-beer pie, or the nouveau give-me-something-different pie. Turn it into a cone, make it on flatbread or wrap it inside a burger. Pizza can already be whatever its consumers want it to be, but how, when and where it is served will become the next arena of evolution.
However, it seems everyone wants a slice of the pie, including the grocery retailers.
Grocery stores have long been viewed as competitors because of the frozen pizza makers, who are improving their product, getting their cheese price breaks and filling up the aisles with convenient take-home pizza. But, of course, nothing beats fresh. Now, we are seeing more grocery stores offering fresh take-home pizza, baked or unbaked, and paying attention to the general fresh ready-made meal category. Loblaws’ flagship store in Toronto has what is basically a restaurant inside where customers can pick up salads, quiche, made-to-order pasta of the day, hot pressed Paninis, burgers off the grill and most definitely pizza. Sobeys recently announced a spate of new healthy eating programs and Whole Foods has been reporting success with the introduction of pubs located inside its stores.
The grocery battles are heating up, and they appear to be going after your customers as part of their turf wars. It’s convenient for people to pick up a pizza from the grocery store when they are already there buying food. I am betting grocery companies are focusing on the quality of what they are offering as well, and doing so with what are likely tremendous resources at their disposal in comparison to independents.
How, when and where you reach your customers is going to be a point of differentiation that will become more important as food service finds itself in more competition with grocery retailers. We hope you enjoy reading about four pizzerias that are serving up something different that’s working in their markets.
Passion has always served, and always will serve, the pizza industry well. People can sense when they are enjoying food made with love and ingredients handled with care. When you can also offer your guests an experience, you’ve got something truly unique to offer. Few can resist the lure of a good story about great pizza.