Feb. 23, 2009
The North American Pizza and Ice Cream Show, held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, wrapped up its two-day run Monday.
NAPICS, the largest show of its kind, was projected to attract as many as 5,000 attendees and more than 200 exhibitors. Now in its sixth year, NAPICS is the only show of its kind featuring both pizza and ice cream.
The show provides operators educational seminars, workshops, access to new products and networking opportunities. One of the main goals of this year's show, organizers said, was providing operators with the resources they needed to maximize the profitability of their restaurants.
"Attendees are certainly looking for tools to help them stay viable," said show director Peter Stern. "That was part of the theme of the show this year, and we've got some great tools to help operators survive and thrive in these tough times."
Despite concern that the economy would hurt operator attendance, most vendors seemed happy with the turnout.
"I'm pleasantly surprised," said Richard Dunfield, president of oven maker Roto-Flex. "The traffic seems to be as good if not better than last year. I'm looking forward to coming back next year."
Industry must work together
Robert Welcher and Randy Sokol of Restaurant Consultants Inc. held seminars both days of the show on increasing ticket averages, sales and profits using the principles of internal marketing.
Scott Anthony of Fox's Pizza Den in Punxsutawney, Pa., hosted seminars on using a point-of-sale system for inventory management, food and labor costs and marketing.
Several vendors were displaying new developments in existing technologies. Brian White of FireFly Technologies Inc. demonstrated his company's latest POS software, which includes the ability to send customers a text message when their pizza is on its way. Dave Goble from equipment supplier Avantec showed his company's latest conveyor pizza ovens.
Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, delivered the keynote address, "Collaboration is the Key," and talked about the importance of operators working together to survive. "The success of this aggregate industry is built restaurant by restaurant," Sweeney said.
"There is no question we are weathering stiff challenges," she said. "Leveraging our collective assets in a situation like this is key, and never more key than when facing these types of economic challenges.
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Pie-making contest has long-term benefits
One of the highlights of the show is the Pizza Pizzazz competition, where operators display their pizza-making expertise in hopes of snagging a $7,500 prize. Contestants make their best pies and submit them to a panel of judges, who grade them on taste, appearance and marketability.
The Gourmet competition wrapped up Sunday, with Mike Amheiser of Pizza Dock in Fredericktown, Ohio, taking the top prize with his Cheesy Meatball pizza. Amheiser also took third place in the Traditional stage with his pizza "The Favorite."
Top honors in the Traditional category, held Monday, went to Shawn Randazzo from Cloverleaf Pizza with "The Meat Supreme."
Winning the Pizza Pizzazz competition can carry rewards far beyond the prize money, said show chairwoman Ann Reichle, who operates Angelina's Pizza in Olmstead Falls, Ohio.
"When we won (in 1996) it literally turned my pizzeria on its ear," she said. "We had people driving from 50 miles away to eat our pizza."