Success Stories

Avalanche Pizza

Avalanche Pizza is located in the small college town of Athens, OH. Since owner John Gutekanst cannot afford to compete against the chains on price, he instead focuses on attracting students and locals alike with consistently great tasting pies, made with top ingredients.

Athens, OH, is home to 20,000 locals and another 20,000 students during the school year. While both groups have slightly different tastes, John works to appeal to both.

For example, because year round locals often have traditional tastes, John features many tried and true traditional classics.

On the other hand, college students coming to Athens from across the country often have more adventurous tastes. Plus, creating a strong word of mouth “buzz” within the campus community gives Avalanche a leg up in attracting many of the new freshmen arriving each fall.

To grab and keep student attention, John continually works to create unique specialty pies, which both taste good and encourage “We had the most amazing pizza last night” conversations around campus.

So alongside flavorfully authentic Old World versions like “Pizza del Gambero Genovese” (Genovese shrimp pizza), John also uses offbeat humor and fanciful names to promote attention getting specials like “The Beelzebub,” an especially fiery pie topped with “ghost chilies.”

But whether enjoying a delicately traditional pizza Margherita or a more exotic flavor combination, John’s customers count on his food to be consistently excellent! As a result, Avalanche Pizza has become widely popular.

In the process of exploring and baking unique pizza varieties and flavors, John also developed a passion for baking rustic, artisan style breads and flatbreads. While they did not necessarily fit the pizzeria’s menu, John decided to try selling uniquely shaped and flavored breads at Athens’ year round farmers’ market.

Through trial and error, and lots of free bite sized samples during every farmers’ market, demand for John’s artisan breads has risen to hundreds of loaves per week, making it possible to add a full time baker to his staff. And because John specializes in unique and highly flavorful bread versions not available anywhere else, he is able to charge (and get) premium prices, making his baking operation financially rewarding.

The beauty of this profitable second business is that it leverages existing pizzeria equipment and ovens during “off hours” (overnight) and has allowed John to cultivate a whole new base of loyal, weekly customers!

In both the restaurant and baking businesses, John’s success is rooted in his passion for superior food quality. In fact, John is so flavor driven that he competes (and places) in various pizza competitions in the US and Italy and even enjoys sharing his offbeat pizza experience with others via his online blog: