Pizza Today - July 2018 - 48

S

SAMMY MANDELL sat arms folded over his
forehead as the anticipation built seconds
before the name of Pizza Today's first-ever
Young Entrepreneur of the Year winner
was announced at International Pizza
Expo in March. He stood, eyes wide,
as his name was called while his table
of Greenville Avenue Pizza Company
(GAPCo) team members and the audience erupted into cheers.
He put himself out there in a major
way, along with finalists Christal Spata of
Valeo's Pizza in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and
Scottie Rivera of Scottie's Pizza Parlor in
Portland, Oregon, to share his entrepreneurial story to a large banquet room filled
with fellow pizzeria operators who voted
on a winner based on a 10- to 15-minute
presentation and a four-minute video.
That's what an entrepreneur does. They
take chances. They innovate. "If you would
have told me 10 years ago, at the age of
35, that I would own two restaurants, a
trademarked seasoning, a licensed song,
and designed and created the persona of
the Pizza Slayer, I would have told you
that you are crazy. But that's what an
entrepreneur is - crazy," he said in his
Young Entrepreneur video submission.
PIZZA TODAY TRAVELED TO DALLAS, TEXAS, IN
APRIL TO SPEND THE DAY WITH OUR FIRST YOUNG
ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR. Sammy met us
outside of the Lowest Greenville GAPCo
location with an undeniable energy. He
introduced Munchie (GAPCo's pizza
slice mascot) and the crew as we passed

4 8 / P I Z Z AT O D AY. C O M / J U LY 2 0 1 8

through the narrow counter-service slice
shop, open pizza makeline and communal
high-top seating. We continued out the
back door, up a flight of stairs and into
GAPCo's office, where we met the leadership team: wife and co-owner Molly, who
leads GAPCo's social and community
outreach strategies; Phil Bossart, creative
director; Sena Munoz, financial administrator, and Katelin Auden, office administrator.
The large footprint was laid out like a
creative agency with a common area and
offices. Items dotted around the room
reveal GAPCo's evolution. A mannequin
wore the latest prototype of a leather
holster, a key piece of the pizza maker's
(Pizza Slayer's) uniform. GAPCo t-shirts
and other swag lined one wall and a custom e-bike took center stage.
It's clear that Sammy has created a
space that has both positioned GAPCo
for growth and made it a pizzeria thinktank of sorts.
On a large, dry-erase board, Sammy has
outlined extremely rapid growth goals for
GAPCo, seven more stores in just four
years. GAPCo sat at No. 80 on Pizza
Today's Hot 100 Independent Pizzerias
list in 2017 with more than $2.8 million
in annual gross sales. Sammy says 2018
should see a significant jump up the list.
GAPCo was also among Fortune's 100
Fastest Growing Inner-City Businesses.
In order to reach the pizzeria's growth
benchmarks, he has set employee development and attracting top talent as key to
GAPCo's expansion.
Sitting down with the team, the first
area Sammy chose to highlight was GAPCo's in-house videos, the cornerstone of
Sammy's vision for the company. He hired
Bossart as creative director over a year
ago to create high-quality, professionally
produced content that is edgy and fun.
"Something that I'm trying to do is
create a brand that becomes a magnet that
attracts talent," Sammy says, adding that
the content and the Pizza Slayer persona
helps GAPCo visualize the attractiveness of its culture. "A lot of the reason for
the content, bringing on Phil - all of
this - was to say, 'How can we make the

brand look so attractive, how can we put
this vision out there that people say, 'hey
I want to work at GAPCo. I want to be a
Pizza Slayer.'"
GAPCo videos are captivating and
cool. Many of them are a little off-thewall, like one that chants "slay pizza" continuously. But, that's the point. GAPCo
is different and it's looking to attract a
different kind of talent.
"For us, it's really trying to bring people
into our story, instead of it being 'oh, hey,
we make pizza; we're scratch; we're local,"
says Sammy, adding that GAPCo embodies those qualities. But, "It's looking at this
world we are trying to create."

EVERY GREAT ENTREPRENEUR STARTS WITH
A SIMPLE IDEA. Sammy had a light bulb

moment when he realized the Lowest
Greenville area was void of a pizzeria.
He was just 23 years old when he and his
wife, Molly, started Greenville Avenue
Pizza Company in 2007.
"I thought to myself - no brainer
... bar strip, pizza by the slice, open past
2 a.m., we're going to make a killing,"
Sammy says. "Having only three months
of working at Chili's, I was not prepared
for that kind of challenge. Luckily I had
some kind of business smarts being an
entrepreneur prior, owning an ATM
business. I had an older brother that knew
food and helped me in the beginning
stages. My mom came in and was cashier
and would clean all the linen."
Greenville's beginning years were
tough, rife with obstacles, including a
lengthy streetscape construction project
that forced Sammy to create a pizza box
bridge to get to the pizzeria. Financially in
the business, Sammy and Molly were just
trying to hold on.
They spent the first several years in the
trenches. Molly was a teacher by day and
worked at the restaurant at night while
Sammy worked the pizza line, meticulously
verifying the quality of each pizza that left
the kitchen. "I did not want to be stuck being behind a pizza line forever, because that
was never the idea. The idea was: I see a
demand. I'm going to fulfill this. And then
I found myself behind the pizza line for 90


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pizza Today - July 2018

Pizza Today - July 2018
Commentary
Contents
Contributors
Expo Spotlight
Interact
Conversation
Man on the Street
Tony’s Trending Recipe
At Your Service
Destinations
Knead to Know
Hiring a Bartender
Kitchen Design
Summer Salads
Menu Labeling Law in Effect
Road to Ppne ‘18
Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Sammy Mandell, Gapco, Dallas, Tx
Gapco
Product Showcase
Pizza Today Yellow Pages
The Marketplace
Reader’s Resource
Mike’s Monthy Tip
Pizza Today - July 2018 - CT1
Pizza Today - July 2018 - CT2
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Pizza Today - July 2018
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Cover2
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Commentary
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 4
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 5
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Contents
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 7
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 8
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 9
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Contributors
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 11
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Expo Spotlight
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 13
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Interact
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 15
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Conversation
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 17
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Man on the Street
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 19
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Tony’s Trending Recipe
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 21
Pizza Today - July 2018 - At Your Service
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 23
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Destinations
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 25
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Knead to Know
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 27
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 28
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 29
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Hiring a Bartender
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 31
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 32
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 33
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Kitchen Design
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 35
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 36
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 37
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Summer Salads
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 39
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Menu Labeling Law in Effect
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 41
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 42
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 43
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Road to Ppne ‘18
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 45
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Gapco
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 47
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 48
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 49
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 50
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 51
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 52
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Product Showcase
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 54
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 55
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 56
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Pizza Today Yellow Pages
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 58
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 59
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 60
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 61
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 62
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 63
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 64
Pizza Today - July 2018 - The Marketplace
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 66
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 67
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 68
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 69
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 70
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 71
Pizza Today - July 2018 - 72
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Reader’s Resource
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Mike’s Monthy Tip
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Cover3
Pizza Today - July 2018 - Cover4
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