For the 2nd year in a row, I was invited to address The International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas on branding. WOW! What a delicious and fun gig. It was three days of hanging out with over 7,000 pizzeria industry professionals and sampling the latest crusts, cheeses and pizza creations from around the globe.
I saw a lot of interesting things including Pizza Man Dan’s pepperoni-covered car. The California operator earns a larger slice of market attention by driving his branded Corvette around town.
From walking the exhibit hall and talking to successful store-owners, I’m forecasting these pizza trends will continue to be strong:
- Gluten not welcome here – Gluten-free pizzas are hot!
- Mindful diners are supporting restaurants who source local ingredients and engage in sustainable practices
- Foodies want to explore – smaller portion options that allow for tasting several options
- Let your customers create – personalized anything
- Salad and greens on your pizza
- Unexpected ingredients – anything from cauliflower to chocolate
Beyond my pizza tasting duties, I checked out some of Vegas’ hot restaurant spots including Yardbird, Mario Betali’s Otto and Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood. All were good but José Andrés’ Bazaar Meat stands out as one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had and it earns my highest recommendation. Located in the ultra hip SLS hotel, which is also worth seeing, Bazaar Meat is a carnivorous culinary sensation.
The eclectic environment is a collaboration of José and renowned designer Philippe Starck. The concept is a modern twist on the traditional steakhouse and is reflected in the décor from the blood-drip shaped lights to gator heads perched on the walls to dogs sporting sunglasses on the furniture. It’s where hunting meets Vogue magazine. It’s opulent and fun.
The service exceeded perfection. I was told the restaurant operates with over 100 employees every night. The food makes the term exceptional an understatement – it’s beautifully presented, interesting and mouth watering. If you are in Vegas, check this place out. Here are two creative inspirations I loved. One of their signature items is Cotton Candy Foie Gras. This explosion of distinct flavors is sweet and meaty. It’s visually memorable and a menu item that is uniquely theirs.
The second idea is how they serve up chicken fritters in this dish – it’s a clear running shoe with white laces. Both innovations are cool and generate word of mouth buzz and generates constant food porn (pictures of food posted on social media).
So what are you doing that can earn this type of brand buzz? Let us know!
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