Greenville Avenue Pizza Company is an overnight success, 10-and-a-half years in the making.Greenville Avenue Pizza Company is an overnight success, 10-and-a-half years in the making.
Greenville Avenue Pizza Company is an overnight success, 10-and-a-half years in the making. And now its founder has been recognized for that success as one of the best and brightest in his industry.
“Man, you gotta be crazy,” laughed Sammy Mandell, owner of GAPCo, the pizza restaurant he founded when he was just 24 years old. Now 35, he operates two locations.
“I was willing to just work 90 hours a week for years on end, to finally get it to run and work,” he said.
At GAPCo, the pizza makers are “pizza slayers” with their trademark leather holsters that hold the tools of their trade. Their logo is a Phoenix, a representation of rising above their 10-year struggle for success.
Mandell has his own trademarked seasoning called “Pizza Crack.” And they even have their own trademarked song. And along with a social media campaign that built his loyal following a customer at a time, he decided to enter the very first contest for Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Pizza Today magazine.
From the video submissions of more than 60 contestants, he was one of three finalists chosen. And last month in Las Vegas at the International Pizza Expo, the industry’s biggest trade show, he was asked to give a 15-minute speech about his brand, his restaurant, and his life as a young entrepreneur.
“Ten to fifteen minutes was a long time to talk,” he joked.
Apparently, his speech, like his pizza, must have been good because Sammy Mandell won. He is the Young Entrepreneur of the Year as determined by Pizza Today magazine.
“Being the very first young entrepreneur of the year in the pizza world, what a very cool honor. We’re not just creating a new pizza but what can we do to kind of really set GAPCo apart from the rest of the competition and create a unique environment.”
And now the award winner, at the ripe old age of 35, with two pizza restaurants plans to open seven more in the next four to five years. Is he willing to work that hard? Well, consider the fact he was at the dentist today. He sat through an entire interview with WFAA after root canal this morning.
“You gotta be ready to do whatever you got to do whenever the phone calls happens,” he laughed. “So talking here with a numb face is what I gotta do.”
So yes, as he said in his video submission for the Young Entrepreneur Award, he’s crazy. And ready for the crazy success he hopes keeps coming his way.