The National Restaurant Association has officially launched the Pizza Industry Council. The council's inaugural meeting was held earlier this week in Chicago and consisted of 15 steering committee members representing a number of brands in the pizza segment, including Rosati's Pizza, Fox's Pizza Den, Marco's Pizza, Boston's Pizza, Oregano's Pizza, Sbarro, Connie's Pizza, Rocky Rococo, Fresh Brothers, Papa Gino's, Grimaldi's, Monical's Pizza and Nancy's Pizza.
Chairing the steering committee is Marla Topliff, president of Chicago-based Rosati's Pizza.
The Pizza Industry Council is modeled after the Fast Casual Industry Council, also created in partnership with the NRA and formed in 2009.
According to the NRA, these councils are established to "more thoroughly engage and be responsive to the needs, concerns and issues of each segment of the restaurant industry."
Topliff said the PIC's objective is to increase the success rate of pizzerias by providing the tools and resources operators need to improve their performance. Topics addressed by the PIC include health care issues, menu labeling and the commodities market.
The group will support the NRA's resources to have a voice in Washington D.C. regarding these and other issues.
"Commodity prices will drive people out of business. We want someone in Washington fighting for us on this issue – and on other issues. For example, we want someone making sure PCI compliance regulations are in place. Do you think a two-unit operator has time to go to Washington to address these issues? They don't. The NRA has all of these wonderful tools and this group gets them into the hands of operators who need them," Topliff said.
Having such a coordinated effort in place will help the pizza segment grow, Topliff adds.
"Pizza is part of the history of the U.S. and the restaurant industry. The more resources we can provide to keep it strong, the better off we'll all be," she said.
The council is expected to quickly develop into a leadership/networking entity that provides support to the members and industry. The council's second meeting is scheduled for March, when the steering committee will discuss how to take its plan of action to the next level.
"Many of us have been in the business for years. We've already made the mistakes and now we're trying to help others avoid those pitfalls," Topliff said. "A lot of what we're doing is paying it forward; trying to help other operators find success. The electricity so far is incredible; there are no competitors, just a group of people trying to find ways to make the industry better."
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Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.