After 20 years of being voted “better of the very best” of pizzerias in Tucson, Magpies Gourmand Pizza is expressing its gratitude to the voters. The award was bestowed by an impartial newspaper, the Tucson Weekly.
Native diners, moderately than restaurant critics, journalists or trade insiders, polled their style buds to make the choice. They solid the essential ballots that named the pizzeria finest over a couple of dozen others within the metropolis.
Mike Acedo, vp of Magpies, which has 5 places in Tucson, mentioned the award is greater than only a good praise. It’s a well-known mark of excellence that diners in Tucson acknowledge. “It’s very significant,” Acedo mentioned. “It’s gotten to the purpose the place all people votes on it. You get some standing from it. And that concern (of the Tucson Weekly) might be their most sought concern of the yr.”
Whereas Magpies has by no means pursued awards, different pizzeria house owners do. Some operators consider it’s higher to obtain an award voted on by shoppers. Others insist a nationwide trade award that acknowledges culinary excellence has extra credibility. An award means little, nonetheless, till a pizzeria capitalizes on it of their promoting, operators agreed.
Take Magpies for example. Being named Tucson’s better of the very best of pizzerias is a focus of their promoting. “It’s the premise of so much we do,” Acedo mentioned. “Principally we do print and unsolicited mail. We additionally put it on our Website, on our bins and our flyers.”
Not too long ago, the award turned a fair greater a part of the marketing campaign when the corporate determined it wanted to step up its advertising and marketing efforts. For the primary time, they’re increasing their promoting to run adverts on native tv. “We have to promote. We’ve seen a dip in gross sales due to the economic system,” Acedo mentioned.
“Our marketing campaign (which launched in January) goes to thank the individuals who, for the final 20 years, have voted us the very best of the very best of Tucson.”
Capitalizing on awards is particularly necessary for impartial operators and smaller chains who want to face out from massive chains, mentioned George Hadjis, president of Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Firm which has 20 shops in southern California and Arizona.
“Within the pizza trade, there’s a variety of competitors,” he mentioned. “We gravitate towards any approach we will differentiate ourselves. Branding your self with awards actually works.” His firm has received quite a few awards for each their pizza and their beer. Some have been consumer-based, reminiscent of considered one of his shops that received finest pizza in Huntington Seashore, California, and others have been trade awards. “I do know we worth each types of awards as bragging rights. That’s why we go after them,” he says. One competitors he’s significantly happy with profitable was the Brewers Affiliation’s 2004 World Beer Cup — which acknowledged the chain from hundreds of others as the very best small brewery. That award and others have been a part of the corporate’s promoting on tv, radio, in newspapers and on their Website. The marketing campaign additionally options LaDamien Thomlinson, a star soccer participant for the San Diego Chargers.
“When you’ve somebody of that stature pushing championship beer and award-winning pizza and beer, all of it connects,” Hadjis mentioned. One other frequent competitor for awards is Dave Smith II, proprietor of Smith’s Pizza Palace Plus in Emporium, Pennsylvania. He enters about six nationwide competitions a yr. These culinary contests are supplied at occasions just like the Worldwide Pizza Expo, which is held yearly in Las Vegas. Smith acknowledges that few of his diners know the importance of the Pizza Expo or would acknowledge different trade organizations that bestow awards. Regardless of that lack of title recognition, he insists such awards are considered by diners as seals of approval.
“In the event that they see that you just’re doing effectively within the eyes of the pizza trade, then they know that your pizza should be good,” Smith mentioned. When he wins an award, he locations the plaque in his restaurant and sends a information launch about it to the native newspaper. “That’s the great thing about it,” Smith mentioned. “It’s free publicity. The newspapers eat it up.”
Each Hajdis and Smith mentioned they see gross sales improve after an award is introduced. “Apart from the delight, we get higher gross sales,” Hadjis mentioned. “I do know our gross sales spike in any respect of our shops. I do know our gross sales stats and there is a rise of about 20 p.c.” Like Smith, he additionally makes positive plaques received at competitions are held on the partitions of all of his firm’s shops. The awards additionally construct camaraderie and delight amongst franchise house owners who look ahead to competitions.
“All of our franchisees wait yearly to listen to if we received an award,” Hadjis mentioned. Pizzeria house owners who fear about getting back from a contest with no first place and a shiny plaque to placed on their partitions shouldn’t be involved, Smith and Hadjis agreed. They are saying that operators can select to publicize their awards or not.
Letting the world learn about your achievements is the great thing about profitable an award. In a market the place shoppers have so many selections, Hadjis says it offers a pizzeria on the spot credibility. “Pizza is a really subjective factor,” Hadjis says. “There are such a lot of pizza eating places and types. How will you argue that your pizza is finest except you’ve received an award? Branding your self with awards actually works.”
With entrance charges, airfare and lodges, Smith estimates he spends no less than $600 or $700 for every trade primarily based culinary competitors he enters. He says the free publicity he positive aspects when he lets native newspapers learn about an award he has acquired makes the money outlay price it.
“It’s about what you’d spend in the event you put an advert within the newspaper,” he says. Impartial pizzerias like Smith’s want to seek out artistic methods to market their companies and awards are one method to do it, says Darren Tristano, govt vp of Technomic Inc., a Chicagobased restaurant consulting agency.
“I believe it’s all the time going to be a constructive. The negatives are minor,” Tristano mentioned. Awards are much more necessary as expertise presents new and other ways to promote, he says. “I believe awards have gotten extra necessary as a result of we’re seeing a shift to on-line for individuals to seek out out about locations,” Tristano says.
Textual content messages are one other approach that pizzerias could get the phrase out about an award to diners. Tristano mentioned the one destructive to a pizzeria profitable an award might be for loyal prospects who’ve a tough time getting a desk after one is introduced. “If some loyal prospects have to attend or can’t get their favourite desk, that might be a draw back,” Tristano mentioned. “Because the trendiness wears off, you’re going to wish to preserve these loyal prospects.” ?
Annemarie Mannion is a contract journalist primarily based in Willowbrook, Illinois.