By LISA HLAVINKA
BRUNSWICK â€” Mama mia! A local restaurant placed third in the semifinal of the 2008 Americaâ€™s Pizza Championship held in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 5.
Savory Subs CafÃ© and Pizza, 3840 Center Road, beat out competitors from around the country. Only the first-place restaurant, however, moved on to the final round, which pitted it against winners from previous years.
The winner, Mike Amheiser, owner of Pizza Dock in Fredericktown, Ohio, will move on to New York to compete against seven other countries for the Worldâ€™s Best Pizza Maker title.
Savory Subs CafÃ© and Pizza owner Paul Haviland said the third-place finish only made him more determined to win a ticket to New York in next yearâ€™s competition.
â€œWeâ€™re just starting in competitions,â€ Haviland said. â€œThereâ€™s going to be more.â€
Havilandâ€™s wife, Lynne, made the pizza for the competition â€” the restaurantâ€™s deluxe, which includes pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives. Lynne baked next to other competitors on a stage that had mirrors on all sides and the ceilings so judges could see how they made the pizzas. The judges were then sequestered in a room where they judged the pizzas on their taste, appearance and marketability.
Haviland said he was proud his wife used ingredients they use every day at Savory Subs. Some competitors â€œdressed upâ€ their pizzas by adding ingredients they wouldnâ€™t use on an average day, he said.
â€œWe didnâ€™t want to take the title with something we canâ€™t duplicate,â€ Haviland said.
The Havilands opened Savory Subs four years ago after spending several years in the sub-making business. Haviland decided to expand the name of the restaurant as he expanded his menu to include homemade soups, pastries and, of course, pizza.
â€œThe pizza is just one-half of our store,â€ Haviland said. â€œIt started out as a small thing, but now itâ€™s a big part of our business.â€
Haviland, who works full time as an equipment operator at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Association, said his love for the business motivates him to make subs and deliver pizzas after working eight hours at his regular job.
Tucked behind Family Video, Haviland said much of the restaurantâ€™s business is due to word-of-mouth advertising. The restaurant is known for baking its bread fresh in the store instead of using frozen products. Haviland said he lets his pizza dough sit and ferment for five to six hours before baking it in the restaurantâ€™s deck ovens, which Haviland said makes for a more authentic product than large production ovens.
Haviland said he will not change the way he makes his pizza to place higher next year. Third place the first time he entered the competition was more than he expected.
â€œThe first reason we went was just to see if we could compete with the big boys,â€ he said. â€œAnd we did pretty good.â€
Hlavinka may be reached at 330-721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.