Over a decade ago, Evansville native and pizza lover, Brad Niemier had a vision. He wanted to start his own pizza restaurant but wanted to figure out how to set it apart from all the other pizza restaurants that dot the southern Indiana landscape. He found his solution in the form of another popular, non-pizza, restaurant, Chipotle. While studying Hospitality and Tourism Management at Purdue, Brad was a frequent visitor to the quick-service restaurant in West Lafayette and loved how its business model allowed customers to create their own custom meals and actually watch them get made right in front of them. After getting input from family and friends, including a chef friend named Blake Kollker, Brad submitted his idea for a quick-service pizza restaurant to a business plan competition at Purdue and won the $20,000 grand prize which he used to start Azzip Pizza.

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Nearly 10 years after opening his first location on Pearl Drive in Evansville, Brad has added nine more locations, including two more in Evansville, and one each in Newburgh, Bloomington, Terre Haute, Indianapolis, and the birthplace of his idea, Lafayette. He's also expanded into western Kentucky with locations in Owensboro and Bowling Green. Azzip has become one of the most popular pizza places in the area, not only because of Brad's genius idea but also thanks to the variety of customized pizzas the menu offers which frequently push the boundaries of your traditional pizza toppings. For example, the popular March Crabness features a layer of crab rangoon filling on their thin crust dough, topped with sliced mozzarella cheese and drizzled with both a sweet and sour sauce and a sweet soy sauce before getting a sprinkle of crispy wanton strips. If you've had it, you know how good it is.

I have been a fan of Azzip since I first tried it shortly after the original location opened in 2014.

Azzip Pizza Wins National Award for "Menu Innovation"

The company's unique approach to making pizza and the variety it offers has not only grabbed the attention of local fans but also recently grabbed the eye of Pizza Marketplace, an industry website dedicated to helping pizza restaurant owners stay on top of the latest trends and technologies in the pizza-making world. The company recently hosted its Top 100 Movers and Shakers awards ceremony in Las Vegas and awarded Azzip its Menu Innovation Award for its "creative LTOs [limited time offers] and...Pizza of the Month Club," as well as its own brand of hot honey and Zip Dust.

I love seeing an Evansville business like Azzip get the recognition it deserves, and for it to happen in a relatively short amount of time from a business standpoint is really impressive. Here's hoping this leads to even more success for Brad and his team in the years to come. Who knows, maybe someday Azzip will go nationwide. I, for one, would love to see it.

[Source: Azzip Pizza]

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