There’s a special magic to a local pizzeria. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but something happens as soon as you walk through the door. Maybe it’s the warmth of the air and the smell of tomatoes and the pleasant campfire scents of the oven all mingle with music that never fails to be exactly right for your mood. Or the magic might be in that first bite, when you experience rich flavors of tomato and cheeses expertly selected and cooked according to recipes old or new, the spice of pepperoni or the sweetness of barbecue sauce. And all around you, there are the sounds of families, friends, neighbors, and new acquaintances gathering in one place for a slice.
This is where the magic seems to be: the pizzeria serving as a small business and a community, collecting people of all ages and stages and depositing them in a single location, united by a dish that varies wildly from place to place but has always had the effect of bringing people together.
Pizza was introduced to the US by Italian immigrants almost as soon as they set foot on the soil of their new home. At the turn of the century, it was sold by the slice by street vendors, who fed laborers while unknowing sowing the seeds of a food movement that would take the nation by storm. By the time Lombardi’s opened its doors in 1904, the groundwork had already been completed: pizza was about to sweep the country. Soldiers returning from WWII gave the movement the push it needed, as they craved the pie they’d experienced while posted in Italy, and as they returned and moved into the now-booming suburbs, pizzerias responded to the spike in demand, opening their doors from coast to coast. Many opened as taverns, a place where the community circled around a table for a slice and a conversation, neighbors getting to know neighbors, and families reconnecting over a low-cost, filling meal.
Today, pizzerias still have that same draw. When movers first arrive in their new home, one of the first connections they make in their new neighborhood is with their local pizzeria – bringing to mind the classic image of a pizza box balanced on a stack of moving boxes before the kitchen table is even unpacked. A pie with humble beginnings is often the first thread of connection between residents and their new community.
With pizza’s community-creating powers, it’s no wonder we celebrate it every day! In fact, Americans consume 100 acres of pizza per day – that’s 350 slices of pizza per second, according to Parade’s Pizza Pop Quiz. And with such a boom, pizzeria owners across the nation can take advantage of the community that their pies help to create in local neighborhoods. Last week, we posted some tips on how your business can show hospitality to your local community – our tip for this week is to invite new movers into your business, and start with a slice! You never know who you’ll bring together.
This week, Welcomemat is at the Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, honing our skills to make local pizzeria marketing easy. Come visit us at Booth N2237 to learn how we can take your local pizzeria marketing to the next level.
Is your pizzeria in the Top Ten Zip Codes for Pizza Restaurants? Find out, and let us know on social media why you think your ‘hood is the best place for a slice.