On Tuesday morning, Joe D’Amore was on the hunt.
As owner of the D’Amore’s Pizza restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, he was intent on finding just one item that would help ease his delivery pains in Southern California: the electric bicycle.
If he was going to find it anywhere, it would be here.
The industry-only Pizza Expo 2014 runs through Thursday at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is estimating the number of attendees to be 12,000, bringing a nongaming economic impact of $15.1 million to the city.
D’Amore said his business is good locally, but unfortunately most of his Las Vegas customers never come back. You see, D’Amore operates his Las Vegas restaurant inside the Miracle Mile Shops, which mostly attracts a tourist clientele.
“You get one shot at them, and hopefully they come back next year and the year after,” he said.
After two years, D’Amore is starting to get repeat business.
“I can’t believe how many people come to Vegas eight, nine, 10 times a year,” he said. “My business is starting to build with repeats.”
And soon, there may be more than one location in Southern Nevada. The namesake said he’s looking at opening another near Red Rock Resort, and he’s in early discussions with the Palms and the D Las Vegas.
Aside from the electric bicycle manufacturer D’Amore was looking for, other exhibitors at the show include Carla’s Pasta, General Mills, La Nova Wings, LC Bakery Equipment Services and TNT Crust.
An exhibitor demonstration stage this week features demonstrations on everything from making tiramisu to throwing a whole-grain pizza that tastes great.
The World Pizza Games held this week award best acrobatic dough tossing, fastest dough tossing, largest stretch, fastest pizza box folding and the winner of the pizza triathlon. That action goes from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the convention center.
The show floor was a mix of traditional pizza-making tools, such as ovens from Marshal &Sons and Grande brand cheese. Nontraditional segments, such as gluten-free, had a large presence, including Udi’s, which was showing off its gluten-free pizza crusts and hoagie rolls.
“We’re finding more and more that the gluten-free community is growing and wants options when they go out,” said Leigh Buckley, who does marketing for Udi’s food service.
The National Steak and Poultry booth was swamped Tuesday afternoon. George Lambesis, national account sales director for the company, said he had 50 leads in two hours and about 10 of them he said were very good. Think large pizza chains, industrial accounts and chains such as TGI Fridays. Popular segments for the company are its antibiotic-free or all-natural meats.
In its second year at Pizza Expo, Sweet Street Desserts also saw a large swarm of customers Tuesday morning. The gourmet manufacturer creates desserts such as brownies, cheesecake and tiramisu for restaurants.
“The National Restaurant Association seems to think the industry is looking up after a few years, and our outlook for this show is positive,” said Robin Drezner, marketing manager for Sweet Street.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588.