Build good pizza and they will come -- even the U.S. President. Just ask Chris Sommers of Pi Pizzeria based in St. Louis, M. That's just what happened in 2008, when Obama was passing through on his campaign trail. The advance team had ordered carryout from Pi, and after tastomg it, Obama proclaimed it to be the best pizza he'd ever eaten. Obama talked so much about "that pizza in St. Louis," that when he became President, his assistant, Reggie Love, called Pi in May 2009, and invited the pizza team to the White House to "satiate their cravings" (in the words of Sommers).
Pi attributes the success of its pizza to the high quality of its ingredients and its committment to creating ecologically sustainable, "environmentally benign" restaurants. Ninety percent of the restaurant's materials, including art, furniture and flooring, are reclaimed, and only 25 percent of its waste goes to landfill. Pi was also the first restaurant in St. Louis to adopt the 100 percent recycled GreenBox pizza box. Sommers also involves his restaurant in Earth Day, with a focus on developing a green restaurant division for the organization. Lastly, Pi hasn't forgotten its more picky eaters; its thin crust dough is always vegan, while its deep dish crust can also be fit for a vegan by request. Gluten-free crust made from rice flour tapioca flour, potato starch, egg whites, olive oil, vegetable oil and water is also on the menu as are vegan substitutes for cheese and meats.
So what has Chris Sommers been up to since 2008? He's opened a Pi restaurant in Washington, D.C., of course! Not to mention three more stores in the St. Louis area as well as a couple of roaming pizza trucks. He's also done some catering of late for the President's recent campaign fundraiser in the St. Louis area, a nice by-product of producing high-quality pizza.
So build good pizza, and they will come... Oh, and don't be afraid to create some hype about it. Chris Sommers wasn't, as evidenced by his multiple television appearances and press mentions, not to mention his 2008 launch of election win pizza, the Broccoli O'Bama.
Jennifer Wright is the CFO of Ecovention, LLC, a design, licensing and manufacturing firm dedicated to improving outmoded, outdated and wasteful food packaging. Ecovention’s first product, the GreenBox, is a pizza box made from 100% recycled material that breaks into plates and a storage carton.