It used to be that every time I ate a salad at Ian’s, I’d have to wait until a coworker finished their pizza but didn’t want the crust — so I could use that piece as my breadstick. It worked, but was obviously not optimum. I’m happy to say this is not true anymore. Behold this month’s Letter from Ian, where he talks about… BREADSTICKS!
The original Ian’s Pizza opened on October 31st, 2001. On November 1st, 2001, you began asking us to sell breadsticks. For almost 10 years I resisted the the powerful sway of the breadstick lobby. Finally, in late 2011, I caved. My capitulation, however, came with strings attached. If were going to sell breadsticks, then I insisted; 1) they must be made fresh in-house; 2) We must to develop sauces which can’t be found anywhere else; 3) we shouldn’t rush the development of a breadstick just to get them on the menu.
After spending one year conducting countless experiments and taste testings, we finally developed a breadstick we’re proud to call the Ian’s Side-stick. What makes our Side-stick special? First the dough requires an 18-24 hour production cycle involving two rises. This means our breadsticks are light and crispy. Second, our sauces rock. We are currently featuring three Side-stick sauces: Poblano Ranch, Bacon-Tomato Cheese, and Zesty Marinara. Our sauces are made in-house weekly, with awesome ingredients including Neuske’s Bacon and fresh poblano peppers.
We are excited about our new Side-sticks and hope you enjoy them as much as we have. As always, new product launches can have their hiccups. Unlike the new Boeing 787, our breadsticks won’t catch on fire, but if they do — or if they just fall short of your dining expectations — please let us know!
Where does the time go?
I feel it’s my duty to tell you all that it’s now officially the middle of August. And I don’t know about you, but I feel as though I lost a couple months somewhere this summer (truth be told, I know exactly where I lost them — hiding out in various air conditioned spots, looking to avoid yet another 100 degree day in Madison).
The students are now back, everyone downtown has done their big move for the year, Jazz at 5 has picked up where Concerts on the Square left off, and we’ve all been drinking a lot of good beer at a wide variety of festivals. So I guess it’s been summer as usual, but it sure feels like it went really, really fast.
The good news is, there’s lots more good stuff to come — Badger football is right around the corner, and we still have plenty of time to sit at the Memorial Terrace and listen to live music. And, because it’s Wisconsin, plenty more good beer to drink at a wide variety of festivals. Luckily that tends to happen year-round here.
If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant (or have friends who work in restaurants, or even if you’ve ever eaten at a restaurant) you won’t be surprised to learn that a lot of “artistic types” end up in food service. You may find them getting creative with the cooking or the serving or the dishwashing, but they are always there.
Ian’s Pizza is no exception; we end up with artists of all kinds in all levels of our organization. So given our leanings, is it any wonder that we’ve turned one big wall at our new location on State Street into a gallery? For real. In a somewhat uncreative – yet entirely truthful – moment, we named our gallery, “The Wall at Ian’s Pizza on State,” and every six months a UW art student will be awarded a solo show, the bragging rights to winning, “The Second Best Art Award Ever” (more zippy naming on our part, ahem…) and a nice little $500 scholarship.
Our very first winner, Helen Hawley, has been hard at work on her piece, and got a nice write-up in the local paper as well. (http://host.madison.com/entertainment/arts_and_theatre/visual/a-different-kind-of-audience-for-artwork/article_324a26a0-ac23-11e1-844d-001a4bcf887a.html).
This is not the first time we’ve employed our artist friends; if you’ve seen the bathrooms at our E. North Street Milwaukee location or noticed the custom illustrated posters around every Ian’s you know what we’re talking about. We love our artists – both behind the counter and not!
Hello! I know it’s been a while since I rapped at ya, but that’s because things have been so darn busy! I hope you’ve been following Ian’s Pizza on State on Facebook to see the pictorial step-by-step build-out of a restaurant. If you think moving yourself is a pain, you should try an entire restaurant; it’ll give you a whole new appreciation of all the stuff you don’t need to do during Madison’s city-wide move in mid-August.
For one thing, you don’t have to wait for the fire inspector to come through and give you the okay on whether or not you can turn your oven on the morning you’re hoping to move in. Believe me, without our ovens we’d be stuck with a whole lot of raw dough. Turns out, it’s not nearly as good uncooked; who knew?
But we haven’t forgotten our friends in Milwaukee; we’ve got special things happening for them too. Our second location in MKE is being renovated right now and we hope to be open there (146 E. Juneau Ave., in the heart of Water Street) in mid-June-ish. Again, depending how construction (and the ensuing fire inspection) goes, it could be sooner, it could be later. The best way to keep track, and also to get chances to win free pizza and sweet Ian’s merch, sign up for Ian’s Pizza Milwaukee Facebook and Twitter (@IansPizzaMKE).
Been to the new space? Excited for a new place in Milwaukee? Want to discuss fire inspections or why every person moves on the same date in August in Madison? Write to email@example.com and holla at us… we’ll holla atchu back.
Everyone talks about the pizza, and rightfully so – it’s tasty stuff. But if you are repeatedly passing by the salad bar at any Ian’s Pizza restaurant, you are doing yourself a great disservice.
This is not a vegetable-based lecture, by the way. It’s a dressing-based call to action, spurred by this month’s specialty dressing: French Dressing.
If you, like me, are not usually a fan of the sweet-ish dressings, this is a life-changing event. It’s a perfect balance of savory and a hint of sweet, along with a sprinkle of magic and handfuls of awesomeness thrown in (you can actually see the awesomeness – it shows up as black flecks).
If your only experience with French Dressing has come from a bottle — the violently orange store-bought versions made with high fructose corn syrup and Porpylene Glycol Alginate – you need to rush into the nearest Ian’s and order a salad just to taste what real dressing is.
May I suggest you start with the French Dressing while it’s available (just three more weeks!)…
It is hard to believe that just one year ago this week Ian’s Pizza on State was in the middle of what will likely be the craziest time of our pizza lives. Hundreds of thousands of protesters were gathering right out our front door, and hundreds of people from around the globe were calling us to donate pizza to feed them.
We were working from 6am to 12am, utilizing everyone on staff (and their friends and families!), picking up truckloads of water, taking truckloads of pizzas to the capital, answering phones nonstop while also trying to introduce ourselves to a world who suddenly loved us but had no idea who we were and what we stood for as a company.
Things are a little quieter outside these days. There are still protesters and folks hold singalongs every day right up the block, but for the most part it’s really a very normal February in downtown Madison. While we are enjoying this quiet time of the year, we are continually grateful for the opportunities we had last year and for all the amazing people we met (and continue to meet) because of the protests.
So… thank you. Thank you for all the good conversation, the great interactions, the faith you placed in us, and for your ongoing support. It means the world to us.
Have you ever painted your living room, and agonized over just what shade of ecru/off-white/neutral/ivory/cream would best highlight your favorite “Howling Wolf in Moonlight” poster? Now imagine trying to come up with a color scheme that blends the awesomeness that is a 110-year-old historic bank building with a hip, high-energy pizza/salad quick service restaurant.
On one hand, you’ve got elaborate crown moldings, sky-high tray ceilings, and elegant Grecian columns. On the other hand you’ve got a huge bright red logo, images based on graphic novels, and a staff that leans toward super-friendly, pierced, & tattooed.
So that’s what’s happening with our move right now… we’re trying to figure out paint color, flooring, and how it all will look as it comes together. Figuring out the equipment is way easier: coolers to keep salad cool, ovens to get pizza hot, serve it all fast, and repeat. This interior design stuff is hard!
It’s true, it’s true!
Ian’s Pizza on State, now at 115 State Street in downtown Madison, will be moving across the street to 100 State Street (the old Children’s Museum location) later this spring.
Why, you ask, would a restaurant move basically across the street? (Because, you know, pizza ovens are HEAVY — and we’re pretty sure our friends will be out of town if we ask for help with those.)
We do have a really nice space now — we’ve been there since July 2005 and expanded in January 2007 — but the building across the street still has some advantages…
It is bigger and will give us a chance to install more heavy ovens (faster service!) and a bigger salad bar (this makes me personally swoon!!!), has a space for private dining (you’ll be able to book it for birthdays, meetings, weddings, Arbor Day celebrations, whatever you want…), is on the sunny side of the street for our patio (a mixed blessing in August, we know…), a chance to experiment with a very ecologically-friendly restaurant renovation (maybe heating our restaurant with “recycled” oven heat, among other things), and it has a vault in the basement! A vault! You know, for, well, we don’t really know what we’ll do with a vault, but it’s pretty darn cool, you have to admit.
We’ve got a lot of other stupendous ideas floating around too, so stay tuned! We’ll do our best to keep you updated in this here blog (except for that weekend they are moving the ovens, I’ll be out of town then).
Anytime we see an article entitled, “The Unsung Benefits of Beer and Cheese” we know we’re in for a good read. Well, as it turns out, we were not disappointed.
The good scientists in Italy have found that the health benefits of a couple of pints are similar to that found in an equal amount of wine. Meanwhile, our lovely friends in Denmark have found that eating cheese raises LDL (the bad kind of cholesterol) far less than other animal fats like butter.
Carry on, Wisconsin!
Are you in Chicago the first weekend in November?
How do you feel about not-quite-mainstream author events?
If you answered, “Yes!” and, “Really positive!” you’ll want to swing by our Ian’s Pizza Wrigleyville location and meet Mike Edison, author and all-around colorful character, as he hangs out and does whatever he wants in our restaurant on Saturday, November 5th at 7:00pm.
He’ll be there to talk about his new book, “Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!” along with New York Superstar Piano Wizard (Mike’s description) Mickey Finn. We’ll also try to coerce him into the kitchen to try his hand at making our pizza homage to him, a special featuring seafood gumbo and Andouille sausage.
Judging by his past employment (editor of both High Times and Screw Magazines, in addition to a truckload of other various and sundry gigs) he’ll be up for almost anything.
Which, as you know, is just how we like our fanatics!