This past September the debut issue of PMQ Russia hit the printers and reached about 4,000 pizza owners and operators in 8 countries that operate in the Russian language. The first issue milestone is the fruit of a year long collaboration between PMQ Publisher Steve Green and former Papa John's and Domino's franchisee in Russia Vladimir Davydov.
The first issue was released just in time to be distributed at the PIR Expo (PIR is the abbreviation for Russian Hospitality Week in Russian). Green attended the Expo where he judged 3 pizza competitions: Classic, Italian and a Dessert category sponsored by Nutella. The Winner of the Classic competition won a spot on the Russian Pizza team and will be sponsored by PMQ Russia to compete in Italy at the World Pizza Championships in Parma.
When asked about how it felt to see the business side of Russia during this time when Russia is under economic sanctions, Green replied that “it’s not about the arms race, it’s about the disarms race and pizza is disarming. Nobody hates pizza and when they taste great pizza it's because there's a competitive market.”
Beyond pizza competitions, PMQ Russia hosted demos on how to make pizza as well as dough spinning performances by staff from Dodo’s pizza. Green says the new magazine and demos were extremely well received at the show and that Russian people are hungry for pizza knowledge. His analysis coincides with the 2013 Pizza Power Report which found that Eastern Europe is the fastest growing pizza market in the world.
"No one understands it,” says Vladimir Davydov, Publishing Director of PMQ Russia, referring to where Russian pizza got its influence. Russian pizza is much more like American chain pizza, particularly Papa John’s, than it is like Italian pizza. It's common for people to begin work at Papa John's and then after acquiring experience and seeing how the business works, they leave to open their own pizza shop. There are many small independent pizza shops, the vast majority mimicking a Papa John’s type pizza crust.
Russian pizza may borrow from American traditions but they have their own unique qualities too such as very strict hygiene and transparency rules. Russian pizza chain Dodo’s Pizza is the first pizza place to live stream their kitchen online during opening hours so that you can see exactly how your pizza is being handled in the kitchen.
Another quirk of Russian pizza is that it is often paired with sushi. “You could compare it to wings in America,” says Green. “It’s not a food you would normally think to go together but it turns out they are both very deliverable foods and actually really good together. This is something American pizzerias might consider for a delivery concept.”
Origins of PMQ Russia
Vladimir Davydov was the first one to bring the Papa John’s brand to Russia. Davydov opened the first store in Moscow and served as Papa John’s access point into the Russian market. On several occasions he met with John Schnatter and it was at the Papa John’s headquarters in the U.S. that he first became acquainted with PMQ Pizza Magazine.
Davydov became inspired to become a source of statistical and practical information for the Russian pizza industry. He invited Steve Green and his wife Linda to snow-covered Moscow in January discover Russia’s rapidly growing pizza market, which is the fastest developing restaurant sector in Russia. Steve and Linda were warmly welcomed and taken along to visit several pizza shops, American and Russian brands alike.
Until PMQ Russia, there was no authority industry numbers or news. Davydov now has 10 or 12 representatives in the different regions of Russia to identify numbers and figures on the pizzerias and suppliers in the region. Davydov intends to bring the same resources to his Russian speaking readers that PMQ brings to its English speaking readers. A Russian website, Think Tank, newsletter, videos are all in the works to accompany the magazine.