Business isn’t all about pizza at the Canadian-grown Pizza Nova. It’s also about family, community, and nutrition education.
The Pizza Nova story began in 1963 in Toronto, Ontario. A young Italian family opened a pizza restaurant at Kennedy Road and Lawrence Avenue in Scarborough, Ontario, with the intent to serve fresh, hot pizza to local customers.
It only took six years for that same family to start opening franchises all over the city – and there are over 120 Pizza Nova locations today. “We’ve had tremendous success since we started franchising in 1969, the growth of Pizza Nova has been amazing” says Domenic Primucci, Executive Vice President of the restaurant. The original Pizza Nova location offered classic pizzas and pastas, but the menu, and service grew.
Only the best ingredients for Pizza Nova pizza
Pizza Nova is founded on the notion of “delivering quality”. The company boasts an uncompromising commitment to the highest quality products made from the best ingredients sourced around the world.
Primucci says that Pizza Nova strives to use local ingredients, but will go elsewhere if the company can’t find what it needs in Canada. “We try to go out and get the best ingredients we can, because our product is a higher-quality product, we offer a finer pizza. That’s who we are, and that’s who we’ve always been. So we use ingredients that may be locally grown, or we use local produce when it’s in season.” Primucci adds that the Pizza Nova tomato sauce is especially important to the flavour of the pizza, and he reasons that the tomatoes are the secret: “Our sauce is made with California tomatoes. They are picked and packaged within six hours to ensure the freshness of the product.” He says that certain ingredients, like the olives that they use, come from as far away as Spain. “Our grilled zucchini – it took me seven or eight months to find the product that I wanted, and I had to go to Italy to get it. It’s simple: nobody here makes it.”
A leader in promoting nutrition and health
Pizza Nova has responded to trends in the marketplace over the years, seeing the increase in health consciousness affecting the food industry in a tremendous way. However, the company has not simply responded, but has paved the way in many regards when it comes to providing a healthier product.
Primucci says that Pizza Nova has been a leader in innovating healthier choices for pizza: “We were one of the first pizza places 25 years ago that offered whole wheat dough. We created a demand for it. Especially now, people are just more concerned about what they eat” he explains, adding that “being able to offer healthier choices is also why we started making pizzas with gluten-free crust”.
Pizza Nova promotes nutritional eating habits. A section on the Pizza Nova website explains the health benefits of pizza:
Nutritionists across Canada confirm that pizza is an excellent source of nutrition and ranks as one of the most nutritious foods available, offering choices from all four food groups: Grains, Vegetables & Fruits, Dairy Products & Meats.
Because of the healthy ingredients that go into making a great pizza, pizza is not considered “fast food”, rather, “good food fast”. Did you know that one slice of pepperoni pizza contributes 20% of the recommended daily intake for calcium? Or that one slice of pepperoni, mushroom, green pepper pizza provides 1/3 of your daily recommended intake for Vitamin C, A, Thiamin, Niacin and Riboflavin? Make Pizza Nova part of your nutritional requirements today. Pizza is also an excellent source of lycopene. Lycopene is a pigment that gives tomatoes their red colour and provides valuable antioxidant protection against certain types of free radicals, and may protect against certain types of cancer better than any nutrient presently known.
Mixing it up
The key to Pizza Nova’s success, in essence, is not just the commitment to the highest quality pizza and ingredients, but the company’s commitment to innovation, Primucci says: “We try to do things differently, like creating new side dishes. We have been making limited
edition pizzas, with different toppings, and then reaching out to our customers for feedback, to see what they think. If the customers like the item, it goes on our menu. If not, we simply do a special edition run of the pizza later on.” Primucci adds that the company really strives to offer an alternative to the norm. Why? Simply to compete in a competitive market for fast food.
“We have to differentiate ourselves” he says. “There are so many options in the market today, places where you can buy pizza; the supermarket now has frozen pizzas and freshly made ones. Casual restaurants almost always have some kind of pizza on the menu, and of course there are so many fast food pizza places. That’s why we’ve started doing so many differently designed pre-named pizzas, like our Tuscan Pesto, for instance.”
Innovation isn’t the only way Pizza Nova differentiates itself. The company is firmly committed to community involvement, and has been since inception. Primucci says that community involvement is key for Pizza Nova, and they are always finding new ways to support a cause.
Food with community roots
“We have many major efforts throughout the year that support our charities of choice. For the Variety children’s charity, we host a major event that has raised over $650,000 since it started in 2000. Every May, on the second Tuesday of the month we sell medium pizzas for $3.99 and a dollar from each goes to the charity. Last year we raised over $99,000, which means we made over 99 thousand pizzas. We have line ups all day long.”
Pizza Nova has been providing a “rising star” scholarship as well to Variety, in support of disadvantaged youth who are also aspiring athletes. “We’ve given $1000 to six of Variety’s aspiring athletes for their training” Primucci beams. Pizza Nova also hosts an annual charity golf tournament that in 2008 raised $29,000 in one day. The company supports other initiatives as well with United Way and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada.
Although the economy wavers, Primucci says that business is good, and there are no immediate plans to move into other provinces. However, the company is still striving to expand in other ways, firmly committed to taste, nutrition, and innovation. Primucci says that Pizza Nova customers will always be able to “taste the difference” and adds: “that’s what we set out to do. Our best marketing tool is our product – we really stand behind our pizza”.
In October 2003, Pizza Nova became HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) approved – a milestone achievement in the food industry. For more information on Pizza Nova, visit www.pizzanova.com.
Kids Pizza Making Workshops
Call Pizza Nova, and they will book a time to show how to make pizza the Pizza Nova way, either at local schools or by hosting classes at participating Pizza Nova store locations.
The educational and interactive “Pizza Making Workshop” is designed for children at the elementary level, providing them with a behind the scenes look at the pizza making process. The children are taught about the importance of nutrition and a well-balanced diet consisting of the four food groups. They then watch a brief “pizza–making” video. After the video each child is provided with their very own ball of dough and is taught, step- by- step, by a Pizzaiolo (pizza maker) to prepare and toss the perfect pizza. Each child is then served a complimentary slice of cheese pizza and provided with a “Pizza Nova Fun- Pack” that includes an educational activity book as well as a certificate that doubles as a coupon for a FREE, small, 3 topping, Pizza Nova pizza. In 2008 Pizza Nova visited over 120 schools, participated in over 600 workshops, entertaining more than 27,000 children. Stephanie Skrypnyk can be contacted at (416) 439-0000 for full details and reservations.