CAT | Ian's Events/Holidays
Just to prove that this blog is not all meandering goofiness & made-up nonsense, we are posting our official “art show opening” press release, sent out to various news media in the Madison area. Real writing! All professional and stuff, in a way that’s clear and intelligent without questionable punctuation and endless run-on sentences. It doesn’t happen often, so enjoy…
Oh, and stop by on the evening of March 5th — talk to the artist, Liz Heller! Eat free pizza! Have a soda on us! What else do you need?
Ian’s Pizza on State to hold art exhibit opening
Madison, WI – February 22, 2013….. Ian’s Pizza on State is holding an art exhibit opening on Tuesday, March 5 at 7:00pm to celebrate the completion of Liz Heller’s Paper Cakes, a site-specific temporary installation based on the theme “Visual Music.”
Ian’s Pizza on State has dedicated one 16′x11′x3′ wall and floor space to be a rotating gallery named “The Wall at Ian’s Pizza” with the “Second Best Art Award Ever” given out to one UW Madison art student. The January 2013 scholarship – the second one given – was awarded to Liz Heller, who received a $500 scholarship and was given the chance to show her work. This installation will change in six months, with a new student chosen and a new scholarship awarded.
The artist describes the installation as, “comprising 200 sheets of handmade cotton paper pressed into a copper plated cake tin or gelatin mold and hung on The Wall in a systematically random pattern, forming a rhythm of physical volumes and voids implying various degrees of audible loudness. The cotton sheets used to make the paper, which were purchased second-hand from St. Vincent de Paul’s, determined the color of the Paper Cakes. Each individual Paper Cake is nine inches in diameter and contains seven hexagonal pyramids. Although this singular object is interesting on its own, the complex geometric pattern is further tessellated, playing on the idea of various forms of volume as an excessive set or series, the amount of space an object occupies, a mass quantity and degree of sound intensity or audibility.”
There will be pizza and soft drinks available as refreshments.
Ian’s Pizza By the Slice opened its first restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin on October 31, 2001. Known for its unusual toppings, high-quality ingredients, and late-night crowds, there are now four locations: two downtown Madison locations, and two in Milwaukee. All feature creative pizza by the slice or by the pie and salads prepped fresh every day with house-made dressings.
Liz Heller is a conceptual artist whose interests are concerned with the mass production and consumption of material objects in contemporary society. Born and raised in Miami, FL and after earning her BA in Business Administration at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, Heller has made the Midwest her home, receiving her Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fine Art from Columbia College Chicago in 2010 and is currently a 2014 MFA Candidate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Heller has work in the Columbia College Chicago collection and has recently participated in group shows like Carnival at the Unsmoke Artspace (Braddock, PA), The Pen and the Sword exhibition affiliated with the Eighth Annual Games and Learning Conference (Madison, WI), and Wanna Play? a national juried exhibition at The Union Street Gallery (Chicago Heights, IL). Her upcoming projects include her MA show in the 7th Floor Gallery in Madison, WI on March 8th.
Over the past couple of weeks, Ian’s Pizza on State has gotten far more business than any Ian’s Pizza has ever gotten (this might not be a newsflash…) and for that we are more grateful than mere words can express.
We’ve been the medium in which thousands of people worldwide (Antarctica! Iran! Holy cow!) have expressed their support & generosity, and we are working pretty much nonstop to ensure that their trust in us is not misplaced. We also are doing our best to live up to the expectations of everyone involved (including our expectations).
We have a set of values that we firmly believe in as a company, and we base our decisions based on those values. We’ve written them in previous meanderings, so we won’t rehash that all again but will hit the high points: We treat our workers well, with 100% paid health care, 401k, a safe & healthy work environment, input as to what happens here, and the ability to choose their path within Ian’s to realize their career dreams (pizza-related or not).
Outside of our business we support the local community by donating hundreds of pizzas and thousands of dollars every year to causes important to local residents: students of all ages, groups of all stripes, fundraisers of all different focus, and a wide variety of organizations have been recipients.
We don’t do this because we “should” or because our accountant tells us we’ll get sweet tax write-offs; we do it because it is our privilege, and our responsibility as corporate citizens (and as grateful human beings).
With this in mind, we have decided to give back in the same way that this all began, and that is through you, our little (okay, not so little…) internet community.
Your job is to please post (or drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org) with suggestions of where you’d like to see a portion of the February 16-February 27 proceeds go, and we will compile those over the next couple of weeks. (At the same time we’ll be crunching numbers here and waiting anxiously to see how much eight tons of flour & cheese costs.)
Once we hear from you, a committee of Ian’s employees will create a poll based on the top suggestions. Then you can then vote to see which final three will get a donation from all of you.
We thought this would be the most, dare we say, democratic way to help give back what you all made possible. So, without further ado, let the suggestions begin!
Oh, and as always, thank you.
We rarely take sides on any debate unless you want to talk about food — fresh vs. old, delicious vs. yucky, Wisconsin cheese vs. California cheese (whose cows are truly happier?). But other than that, we really just want to serve you the best food we can, using the best possible ingredients, with the best possible customer service.
Now, maybe you’ve heard a little bit about what’s been happening in Madison this past week. Protests, marching, little ol’ Wisconsin on the national news…sounding vaguely familiar?
Yes, we’ve seen tens of thousands of people vigorously exercising their right to freedom of speech, steps from our front door. We’re not going to get too in-depth here (we are just pizza people, after all) but suffice it to say it’s been a rather unusual mid-February downtown.
On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning we took a late-night call from folks still over at the Capital; they were wondering if they could have our end-of-night leftovers. Well, of course — we’re always glad to hand out food at 3:30am! (That is pretty much our reason for existence… well, that and the house-made ranch dressing.)
The next day we got a handful of calls from folks throughout the country, people who had heard about our late-night donation. Then a few more the next day, and next thing, fast forward to 5pm on Saturday when we were so inundated with calls — from over half the states in the Union and from international locales ranging from Canada to Denmark — that our normal business had to essentially be shut down so we could focus on feeding the protestors.
It takes a leap of faith to call a place you’ve never heard of, order a pizza that you’ll never see, and just hope that those people on the other end of the phone do what they say they will. It’s now 9am on Sunday, February 20th, and at last count we had sold over 430 of our signature 20″ mac n’ cheese pizzas to callers worldwide, and have at least 60 still waiting to be made so we could help feed what has turned into a city within a city.
When this is all over, we’ll gather these order tickets, compile a list, post it on our website and Facebook and in-store, and we’ll have a final count of who ordered what and just how many people we helped feed.
In the meantime, just know that we are so honored that you have entrusted us with feeding the people you’re supporting and we’re so grateful for your trust and your business — thank you so much!
Well, the first of the year is always a good time to reflect on the past, anticipate the future, and drink slightly too much cheap champagne out of those flimsy plastic saucers.
We have nothing to say about your choice of beverage or its vessel, but we would like to talk a little today about what we saw in 2010 and what we hope to see in 2011.
Of course, most notable for Ian’s in 2010 was the arrival of our Milwaukee restaurant on New Year’s Eve 2009. We’re happy to report that it just celebrated its one-year birthday and is fast becoming a bartime staple in Eastside Milwaukee. You closed Wolski’s and then what did you do? You went to Ian’s…
Chicago made it their goal in 2010 to attend seemingly every Chicagoland summer event armed with stickers. If you went to any music/gay pride/music & gay pride festival this past summer and did not get accosted by a rowdy group of Ian’s employees wielding stickers, you may want to check — you might not have made it to the festival after all, but were just wandering through crowded city streets.
Ian’s Pizza Madison 2010 Eating Contest, bigger and better than ever, went flawlessly, even though gale-force winds threatened to blow the band (The Big Payback) and the Comedy Club on State emcees right off the stage.
The second annual Mustaches for Kids fundraising event at all our Wisconsin restaurants also became a great example of what can be accomplished with unfettered facial hair. In addition to raising some customers’ eyebrows due to a shaggy-looking counter crew — and raising a few pints at our weekly check-ins — we also raised $2,375 for the Wisconsin Make-a-Wish Foundation.
As we look forward to 2011, we’re working to improve not only the food, but the look of all our restaurants.
Ian’s Wrigleyville was closed for a week during the holidays to get a new coat of paint, paneling, and other upgrades, while the original Ian’s on Frances Street in Madison remodeled over the summer and ended up with a shiny new salad station. Ian’s Pizza on State would like to finish remodeling the empty space at 111 State Street, turning it into a cozy little room for music, wine, beer, and meetings (but that will definitely be a year-long project).
As for the food (let’s not forget about the food!) we’re looking forward to a new year of new specials — and some old favorites — and we’re adding a monthly salad special to our regular line-up of delicious offerings. In Wisconsin we’ll also be changing how our specials run — instead of Seasonal Specials that run three for three months at a time, they’ll now get switched up monthly and make an appearance a couple times throughout the year. Our weekly specials will continue on, of course, offering a limited run of some really excellent slices.
As always, we’re open to feedback about what you’d like to see, or not see, how we could improve, or how we already rock your world.
Here’s to the best year ever!
At the risk of sounding saccharin-sweet, which is not something we’re known for, we’d like to thank you, our awesome customers, because we couldn’t do this without you.
(Okay, that’s not entirely true; we could still make pizza and salad and hang around the restaurant until 3am, but not for long because we actually need to bring in money in order to pay rent, buy supplies, drink good beer, etc….)
So thank you for your support, for telling your friends about us, for bringing out-of-town visitors by the restaurant so they can check out our crazy pizza, for choosing to spend your money here on those days you don’t feel like cooking or packing a lunch, or those nights when you just need a little somethin’ to round out your evening.
Have you heard of a Carrotmob? It’s an anti-boycott, basically, whereupon some people organize a group (some would say a MOB) of people to get out and support a local business that is trying to be particularly environmentally-friendly (the carrot vs. the stick — get it?) at a certain time and day.
Well, we think it’s a pretty cool idea, made even more cool because they’re organizing one for Ian’s Pizza on State. Maybe you know a little bit about what we do at Ian’s to try, in our own little way, to help the environment…
• Our drinking cups are made from corn and are compostable.
• Our napkins are from 100% recycled paper.
• Our to-go salad containers are made from sugar cane and are compostable.
• Our to-go utensils are made from cornstarch and are compostable.
• We give people an extra punch on their punch card if re-use a box or bring in their own container.
• We no longer have plastic bottled water for sale, but instead carry water in glass bottles (or, of course, we have tap water available at a water station).
• Our office paper is 100% recycled.
• We try to buy as much local food — vegetables, ham, all our cheese — as we possibly can.
Because they knew of our efforts, the Madison Carrotmob group asked if there was some particular “environmentally-friendly” thing we’d like to focus on that we hadn’t done yet, and as it turns out the answer was “yes.” We’d just gotten a solar energy audit, and found out that we have a perfect spot on the roof to put a solar energy hot water heater. That’s good news, right?
Right, but the bad news is that a solar hot water heater, even after rebates and incentives, costs uncomfortably close to $10,000. That’s a lot of slices at $3.50 per, if you know what we mean.
So that’s what we’re trying to do on Thursday, November 11th from 6pm-bartime… raise enough money to buy a solar hot water heater. We’ve pledged to put 50% of our profits above & beyond a usual Thursday toward this, and the Carrotmob planners have all sorts of fun things happening to help out. We’re even throwing together a special “Carrotmob” slice just for the day — a veggie slice with roast carrots, parsnips, and daikon radish on a dijon cream sauce, all finished with chives.
So stop by if you love carrots, parsnips, and daikon radish; stop by if you love solar hot water heaters; stop by if you want to support Ian’s being just a little more environmentally-friendly; stop by if you just want to see what the heck a carrotmob looks like…
For more information, visit http://madison.carrotmob.org/
Late October is just a time of unmitigated joy for us here at Ian’s Pizza, and not only because we all still dress up and travel house to house trying to score free candy. (Though, honestly, what a great scam that all is, huh? Wow.)
No, the first reason is that it’s our birthday! Yes, we’d like to wish a big happy birthday to our flagship store at 319 N. Frances St. in Madison — on October 31st it celebrates its 9th birthday. It’s true, on that date in 2001, Ian opened the doors for the first time on an unsuspecting Wisconsin that had never even conceived of macaroni & cheese on a pizza, let alone steak with barbecue sauce, french fries, and copious amounts of ranch dressing over top of it all. And you’re welcome — that was one small step for man, one giant step for bar-time as far as we’re concerned.
The second reason is that it’s time to celebrate Hallow-ians, that little thing that’s consistently one of the busiest nights of the year for all our restaurants.
In Madison these days we have Freakfest, which is a little more civilized than the past years of riots & overturned cars (or at least the shenanigans are now set to live music). With a restaurant right on State Street, and the other one a block off State, those stores pretty much turn into a nonstop party that usually ends in a couple slices of pizza and a half-hour wait for the bathroom…
Chicago & Milwaukee, meanwhile, are celebrating with Click or Treat, whereupon one of the staffers takes pictures of the best costumes that come slinking/sashaying/striding/stumbling in throughout the night, post the best of the best on their respective Facebook page, and then let the readers vote. Winner gets pizza and even more Facebook notoriety than what they already have (we’re just guessing).
Whatever it is you do this Halloween, remember to be safe, look both ways before you cross the street, and most importantly, make sure your costume does not impede your ability to eat and drink!
Now, we’re not going to take any sides on a vegan-vegetarian-meatatarian diet debate. All we really want to do is feed you and make you happy; whatever slice does that is a-okay by us. However, if you are vegan, know some vegans, or are at all interested in some good vegan food, now is the time to eat out if you’re around Chicago.
From October 24-31, Ian’s Pizza in Wrigleyville (along with Drew’s Eatery, Clark St. Dog, and New York Deli) will be celebrating World Vegan Week. The other restaurants will be offering a few more vegan options while Ian’s will have a vegan version of our Spicy Taco Pizza (using Seitan “meat”) up in the window daily.
It’s not common for Ian’s in Wrigleyville to have vegan slices available on demand, but we always have the goods on hand to make a wide variety of vegan pies, using Upton’s Naturals’ meats, Yues’ Soy Pepperoni, and Chicago Soydairy Teese Vegan Cheese.
This is the perfect time to stop by & check it out — you never know until you try it!
Here are a few facts about our favorite dinner/lunch/breakfast/snack/food group, which is currently enjoying its own month.
(We like to imagine that there is a powerful pizza lobby working hard in Washington, D.C., first naming October as Pizza Month in 1987 and now pushing its own pizza-based agenda on an unsuspecting American public, wrangling behind the scenes, bartering late-night deals to make pepperoni a national treasure or some such. Can you see the CNN-worthy event that would occur when East Coast Senators tried passing a bill making New York-style pizza our national food — and then the Illinois Representatives storm the podium, shouting and caterwauling. The entire Senate floor turns into a massive food fight with sauce/cheese/crust mayhem ensuing; all work in the country comes to a standstill as riots break out in the streets — deep dish vs. thin crust — brother against brother — families forced to make difficult choices no family should ever have to make — o, the humanity! But we digress. Ahem. Back to our fun facts.)
- Americans eat, on the average, 350 slices of pizza each second (equal to 100 acres per day).
- There are over 61,000 pizza parlors in the United States.
- Everyone in the United States eats about 23 pounds of pizza yearly. (Please note that Ian’s employees have likely skewed that number higher; self-monitoring indicates that we eat at least three times that amount, and probably more but we just don’t want to admit it.)
- 3 billion pizzas are sold yearly in the United States. Yes, that would be 3,000,000,000.
- 36 % of all pizza orders are pepperoni. (We are working to get 2% of all pizza orders to be topped with mac n’ cheese… any help you could give us would be much appreciated.)
If you (or someone you know) can virtually inhale a slice of Ian’s mac n’ cheese you should check out our upcoming eating contest. Not the “How Much Can You Eat and Subsequently Barf” type contest (we’ve all seen the aftermath of that Saturday night activity on the streets of Madison Sunday morning…) but a timed event where it all comes down to how fast you can chow down a slice of cheese, and then a slice of mac n’ cheese.
This is the fourth year we’ve run this contest, and now that we kind of maybe sort of know what we’re doing we’re pulling out all the stops – not that a free semester worth of pizza is anything to ignore – but this time around you can win an iPad in addition to that free pizza. Second & third places even get some love with prizes from Fontana Sports & T.C. Katz bar. Even the hopeless loser who take 7.5 minutes to savor his slice can win a prize if he is crowned “Fan Favorite”. (We can only hope the guy who showed up in a boxing robe with a trainer last year comes back for that one…)
Also new this year, real live music from The Big Payback and real professional emcees from Comedy Club on State.
Sign up happens in both Madison restaurants through Sunday, September 19th, and the event is Thursday, September 23rd at Library Mall on State Street from 5-7pm.
Wow! Next year maybe this whole thing will be on ESPN 8 “The Ocho”.