Pizzerias prep for big day
Pizzeria owners are anxiously awaiting this Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, slated to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla.
The day could be a bright spot for pizzeria owners in the midst of what has been a gloomy economic season. Super Bowl Sunday is typically the busiest day of the year for pizza sales.
"As we get closer to the end of the season, what's on the menu becomes even more important," said Papa John's CEO John Schnatter. "Football fans aren't interested in queso sauce or fumbling around with a fruit salad. They want pizza."
Operators are doubling or tripling the number of people they plan to have on staff to handle the business. Most are suggesting that customers place their Super Bowl orders well in advance of halftime.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 58 percent of all takeout and delivery restaurant orders for Super Bowl gatherings will include pizza. In addition, the Yellow Pages Association reports that the term "pizza" was searched more than 60 million times in January last year, its highest total of the year.
Even some soldiers in Iraq will be celebrating the day with a slice of pizza. Lou Malnati's Pizzeria in Chicago is shipping 2,000 pizzas, along with three pallets of Schlitz beer, to Iraq courtesy of delivery company DHL.
Papa John's expects to sell more than 750,000 pizzas during the Super Bowl, the company said, enough to cover more than 52 football fields.
No. 2 Domino's said it expects to deliver more than 1.1 million pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday, a 44 percent increase over a typical Sunday.
"This is a day everyone at Domino's Pizza circles on the calendar," said Domino's USA president Patrick Doyle.
"Super Bowl Sunday has become more than just an American 'activity' - it's become a true holiday where Americans celebrate by eating a lot of pizza, and we like that," he said. "Our stores prepare for the game weeks in advance, because, unlike other days where we might sell a million pizzas, the orders come in a very compressed period of time on Super Bowl Sunday. The phones start to ring about 30 minutes before kick-off and they continue at a frantic pace through half-time."
The company introduced its new line of American Legends pizzas in time for the Super Bowl festivities. The pizzas feature 40 percent more cheese than a typical Domino's pizza.
And No. 1 Pizza Hut said it sees an average 55 percent increase in business over a typical Sunday.
The companies have been busy compiling fun facts about Super Bowl pizza sales. According to Pizza Hut:
  • The company will sell enough pizza to cover more than 50 football fields
  • Pepperoni is the most requested pizza topping, followed by Italian sausage and extra cheese
  • The number of WingStreet wings expected to be sold would be enough to give a chicken wing to every citizen of Phoenix and Pittsburgh.
  • Honey Barbeque is the most popular wing sauce, followed by Buffalo Medium and Buffalo Mild
And from Papa John's:
  • The most food is consumed during halftime - six out of seven viewers said they planned to eat pizza during halftime
  • Papa John's expects to have three times as many employees working during the Super Bowl than during a regular day
  • Most delivery drivers make $75 to $100 more in tips on Super Bowl Sunday than they would on a regular night

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