War—It’s Good for Pizza

War.  What is it good for?

A question posed by one of the most popular protest songs of all time. “War” by Edwin Starr does indeed have an answer to the worth of war—it’s good for absolutely nothing.  C’mon, sing along with me.

War…Huh…Yeah!  Whaaaat is it good for? Absolutely Nothing.  Good God, y’all!
Say it again y’all!

The value of war has a vastly different definition here in restaurant row.  War is actually good for the pizza business.

Pizza Wars has concluded its final week highlighting the various pizza establishments in New Orleans.  Pizza Wars is a competition between participating restaurants promoting “A NOLA Pizza Experience.”  You receive a pizza passport that can be stamped at each restaurant and upon completion you fill out a survey and vote for all your favorites—including: Best Thin Crust; Best Specialty Pizza; Best Beer Selection; Best Deep Dish; Best Atmosphere; and (click here for) your OVERALL favorite pizza joint.

The contest winner receives a grand prize of a pair of Jazz Fest Brass Passes while 20 others can win gift certificates and pizza parties.  The odds of winning appear pretty good.  The lack of publicity and advertising for this promotion seems to favor either pizza connoisseurs or industry insiders that can compare talents or vie for bragging rights.  Obtaining 10 stamps can be adventurous and fun yet time consuming and expensive—hey it’s war anything goes…

Yikes–OK, almost anything.

What I find fascinating about Pizza Wars is that this is both friendly and competitive.  It’s about discovering a different experience, taste, and style of pizza.  It showcases diversity and various strengths.  It shines a spotlight on a particular cuisine in a city known for culinary creativity.

There are 10 participating restaurants, a couple of which are local chains with multiple locations.  However, there are 14 categories to vote for your favorites.

Photo Credit Ian McNulty

Basically, there’s plenty of space for everyone to be a winner.  It suggests that there’s confidence in the industry and that there are options for any desired style of local pizza.  This is a similar phenomenon here in our restaurant row where clustering is a means to success.

I’m curious to see the same war in an economic downturn.  Would we see this same competitive camaraderie?  I suppose you could argue that we are in such a recession—yet are we experiencing the same economic climate as the rest of the nation?  Are we still rebuilding from Katrina or still utilizing federal funds insulating our economy?  Certainly this area is still extremely attractive for continued investments as can be seen by the continued growth of the Lafitte Greenway.  In a down economic environment, I could envision the industry galvanized to such an extent that there would be an increase of “warring” cooperation.

Photo credit Ian McNulty

If you didn’t get an opportunity to tour your local warring pizza establishments don’t worry.   Once a war stops another one is about to begin.  In fact, check out this month’s Pizza Magazine where one of Theo’s owners, James “Jammer” Orintas discusses the benefits of cross promotion and the prospects of future Pizza warfare.  A second Pizza War is in the works for this summer (or 2013 according to The facebook) and will benefit a local children’s band.  Now, that’s something to we can come together and fight over.  So get your passports ready because war is around the corner.  Now that’s a great answer.

Photo Credit Eileen K. at Yelp.com

War.  What is it good for?  THAT is absolutely something.

Although, I like mine without mushrooms.

Peace.

By M. Hendrickson

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