Pizza Expo Podcast Episode 12 - Brittany Saxton and Will Grant

October 06, 2021

Pizza Expo Podcast Episode 12 - Brittany Saxton and Will Grant

[00:00:00.000] - Rev and Eric

We are back with another exciting episode of Who's at Pizza Expo in the Marqii booth. And we've got World Pizza Champion Brittany Saxton from 600 Downtown. Right? So what are you seeing? How's Expo today?


[00:00:12.930] - Brittany

Expo is beautiful. I'm so excited to be back here, seeing all the faces. I think the networking is what I've missed the most. We've got to meet a couple new vendors and some of our old vendors, so it's just been a great time.


[00:00:24.750] - Rev and Eric

Yeah. You've competed before, in what was it you were competing in? Was it...


[00:00:28.930] - Brittany

Um, I used to do the largest and fastest. So, I have 5 gold medals and 2 world records in the largest pizza toss, or fastest pizza tossing.


[00:00:33.860] - Rev and Eric

And you retired from that a couple of years ago?


[00:00:38.080] - Brittany

It's been about five years...


[00:00:38.920] - Rev and Eric

But you're thinking about, you may have to come out of retirement?


[00:00:41.486] - Brittany

I may, I may.


[00:00:43.000] - Will Grant

She better. She's the best.


[00:00:44.910] - Rev and Eric

Will Grant in the house.


[00:00:46.060] - Rev and Eric

Do you just want to jump in right back in here?


[00:00:48.340] - Rev and Eric

Just come back here, Will. We're just talking. We got Will, World Pizza Champion Will Grant in the house. So we're just talking to Brittany about what she seeing new. Now I want to ask both because you're both here. We're seeing a lot of plant based toppings. Plant based pepperonis. Is there a need for that in your markets? Is there, what's the feel about that?


[00:01:06.010] - Brittany

We don't get a lot of the plant based in our operation but we did get and I did see here, though, is keto base, so there is a chicken keto-friendly crust here that I'm looking at.


[00:01:16.380] - Rev and Eric

Yeah. What about for you?


[00:01:17.980] - Will Grant

Definitely, you know there's always, it's funny, growing up in the pizza industry and even cooking and chef right in 80s and 90s, there was nothing like this and now there's more growth and more people eating out and stuff like that. It's definitely a bigger call for vegan, keto, stuff like that. We're really lucky with the Pizza Champion Team, Hormel Foods has become one of our sponsors and they have a new naturally based...pepperoni. And I got to say, if I couldn't have regular ...I'd love to have's really...


[00:01:46.660] - Rev and Eric

I tried it yesterday and I was kind of shocked. Yeah, I was shocked. I was like, this is really, you made the comment about it. Like, if you didn't know it was plant based, you would think...


[00:01:54.460] - Rev and Eric

I was like something's different here, but I wouldn't know what it was


[00:01:56.830] - Rev and Eric



[00:01:56.830] - Will Grant

Well it's just got a sweet flavor to it, right, I mean.


[00:01:59.670] - Rev and Eric

Yeah. So you're going to come out of retirement next year and your going to compete again?


[00:02:04.330] - Brittany

I may, I was watching it yesterday, and I've always missed it, but I do seminars upstairs and so when you do the seminars you're not allowed to do the competition events but I miss it a lot.


[00:02:16.420] - Rev and Eric

Yeah. Are you guys both back to full open restaurants now? I know you struggled for a while, right?


[00:02:22.140] - Will Grant

Um, I've kind of changed my business model. You know, with the one place we were open for lunches, That's A Some Pizza, for 37 years. But now I've found with half the staff and half hours, they can do the same numbers. So I don't ever want to go back to those kind of hours.


[00:02:34.780] - Will Grant

Really? What about for you?


[00:02:35.980] - Brittany

We did cut our hours back a little bit, but we are back to 100% and open for lunch.


[00:02:41.260] - Rev and Eric

Now, you've got that beautiful basement down on the bottom. Are you using that now?


[00:02:46.810] - Brittany

It is booking back up.


[00:02:46.900] - Rev and Eric

Is it really?


[00:02:47.520] - Brittany

We're still using it as overflow, but it's patio season right now, so our patio is open, so that is mostly events. But as the weather shifts, we'll be using that as overflow still.


[00:02:58.560] - Rev and Eric

Right, right. You guys, you do a great job on social media.


[00:03:00.790] - Will Grant

I try. I just turned my social media addictions into my marketing plan.


[00:03:04.110] - Rev and Eric

There you go. One of the funniest things I've seen in the last couple of weeks is Mike Bausch is doing a video in Vegas, and he's like, "Oh, it's Vegas. It smells like vanilla and prime rib". And then here comes Will Grant walking by and he's like, "wait, there's Will Grant", just kind of a funny moment.


[00:03:19.780] - Rev and Eric

It's just like everybody has their own Avengers title where this is like the crossover series.


[00:03:24.225] - Will Grant

Exactly, man. This is it. This is where it all comes together. This is Endgame.


[00:03:28.650] - Rev and Eric

I was at a seminar that Scott from Punxsy Pizza did the other day talking about old school marketing that still works. Do you still see some of that? Where it's not all, you're not going to hit every customer with an Instagram post. Do you still do a mailer or some of that stuff?


[00:03:43.381] - Will Grant

Absolutely. You know, people are people. You're humans, right? As many help wanted and Indeed and Craigs List ads that you do, nothing beats a help wanted sign on the front door of your restaurant. People like texture, we like touching, we like feeling things, right? That's why we're all here. Because we want to see what we have ahead of us, so being able to give people coupons or give people fliers. You let people know what's going on in any way you can. It's all about sharing your story. And I think that's why the World Pizza Champions so good, because we're able to share so many different stories at once but all be from the small operator side.


[00:04:14.190] - Rev and Eric

Nothing frustrates me more when I look at social media profile for a restaurant, and it's just like food porn, it's like, what are you an influencer? Or are you a restaurant? Like what are you, you're telling me you have great food, but like I get that anywhere. What's different about you?


[00:04:27.370] - Rev and Eric

You expect that, right? I was going to ask both of you how long have you been part of the World Pizza Champions?


[00:04:31.749] - Will Grant

Um, three years now.


[00:04:32.100] - Rev and Eric

What about you?


[00:04:34.370] - Brittany

Since 2014


[00:04:34.370] - Rev and Eric

Mike Bausch did a phenomenal job this morning as keynote.


[00:04:38.136] - Will Grant

Oh, it was unbelievable.


[00:04:39.000] - Rev and Eric

He was really good.


[00:04:39.760] - Will Grant

It's going to be hard for anyone to ever do a keynote again after that.


[00:04:42.432] - Rev and Eric

Right, right. But one of the things he mentioned was when he first joined the team, it was very kind of disjointed. And some people like they were part of it. They're wearing the coat, but they're not really involved. And it seems like in the last couple of years that I've been somewhat involved on a larger scale nationally. I see a lot of this with this group. Do you guys feel like it's more cohesive than it's ever been?


[00:05:04.420] - Brittany

It's definitely way different than when I first joined the team. When I first joined the team, you got the coat, you showed up here and you were just. But now we have after party events, we have connecting, we have our group chat, we have all these things going on now to make sure that we're always connected to each other.


[00:05:21.970] - Will Grant

Well, I think anytime we have a large group of people from all over the country, it's like herding cats, right? So you've got to have someone that can take time to kind of put this stuff together. And you know everyone's, she's an amazing award winning pizzaiola that is doing so much on her own, you know, Mike Bausch is doing something. We've got so many people that have so much stuff going on, it's hard to really get something cohesive together. So I think that's been a big part of the membership for the team, is getting people they know will fit well with each other and really working forward on the team atmosphere. Because, you know, for me growing up, I never thought I'd be on the team because I'm just a chef. Right, you know, watching these guys and being a fan guy, fan boy of her for a long time, too, right.


[00:06:02.950] - Will Grant

You know, it's, these guys are professional athletes. I'm just cooking stuff. I mean, it's amazing what Brittany does and it's unbelievable.


[00:06:11.100] - Rev and Eric

Alright, so for people that are watching or listening to us that don't know what the World Pizza Champs are, why don't you explain that real quick? I know you're like, wait, there's people that don't know?


[00:06:20.540] - Brittany

We're a band of pizzaiolos, who, there's some bakers, there's some acrobatics. We have our world pizza games on one side, our international pizza games on the  other side, but we're just people with good morals, good values and the passion of pizza.


[00:06:38.410] - Rev and Eric

That described, there you go. I think that describes the crew that I know.


[00:06:40.740] - Will Grant

It really does. The idea is, there's these different competitive teams from all over the world and each country has their own. And Tony Gemignani wanted to do something a little bit different from the stories I've hears, correct me if I'm wrong, but he wanted to do something a little less involved with the big five chains. He really wanted more the small pizzerias, the family pizzerias and not just that, the lifers, the people that this is what we do, this is what we live, eat, breathe and drink...


[00:07:10.050] - Will Grant

But not just that, but always continuing to learn and be the best versions of ourself. And then also to help build up the people around us. And he's really handpicked who made the team, the top pizzaiolos, pizzaiolas in the world to really come together to compete in the world forum and show that America, it's not just Italy. It's a great place to have pizza and really competitive on a world competition.


[00:07:37.110] - Rev and Eric

Yeah. I think for me one of the coolest things about this group is you look at all the speakers over the four or five days, and it's probably majority 90% of World Pizza Champions. And, you know what, you guys are pouring into other people, and I realize there's some paid events or some that aren't the free or whatever. But you guys are taking a lot of time to prepare and put all that work and effort into that stuff, literally to pour into people you don't know.


[00:07:59.940] - Rev and Eric

And I said this earlier, we talk about this a lot, I think kind of a spiritual thing. But what you give, you get back ten fold. It comes back in a different way, shape or form and I just love that that's almost kind of the spirit of the World Pizza Champions is just, we're going to give because you get it back. Anyway, we don't want to take forever, both of you, thank you for being a Perfect Crust customer. Thank you for being a Perfect Crust customer.


[00:08:24.220] - Will Grant

Thank you for letting me jump in on this.


[00:08:24.627] - Brittany

I was like thank you for jumping in.


[00:08:24.220] - Rev and Eric

Yeah, you know jumping in, he was coming anyway but thank you both for your business. We appreciate it and just much to you love you guys, so keep it up.


[00:08:32.310] - Rev and Eric

I think we still haven't asked the big question.


[00:08:34.600] - Rev and Eric



[00:08:34.600] - Rev and Eric

What do you think it's different about Expo this year?


[00:08:36.570] - Rev and Eric

Oh yeah. There you go.


[00:08:37.390] - Rev and Eric

Other than masks and attendance.


[00:08:39.730] - Will Grant

You mean a quarter of the size and quarter of the people? Besides that part? I'd say new operators.


[00:08:44.880] - Rev and Eric



[00:08:45.210] - Will Grant

We live in a world where anyone can buy an Ooni and do a startup. So we have so many people that are new to the industry and are passionate about making good food here. And they're coming in droves to our seminars, they want to learn from us.


[00:09:01.200] - Rev and Eric

Yeah, good point.


[00:09:01.200] - Will Grant

It's one thing to be able to give, it's another thing for people wanting to listen. There's lot of people that want to listen and learn.


[00:09:06.180] - Rev and Eric

Great point. Well, he said that earlier he's always amazed at the, some of the people that come here almost close-minded. Why would you come here close minded? It just makes no sense. But people do it, so anyway, thank you all.


[00:09:18.940] - Rev and Eric

We'll see you all tonight for dinner.


[00:09:20.320] - Will Grant



[00:09:21.330] - Rev and Eric



[00:09:21.670] - Rev and Eric

So thank you, guys. Appreciate it.


[00:09:22.930] - Brittany

You have a good day guys.