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Slice of Life

Giant Leaps Hospitality and Tourism Management

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

Entrepreneurs put new twists on traditional methods

By Marti LaChance, originally published in Life360, Fall 2015

Brad Niemeier would know. In 2014, less than two years after earning his degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the College of Health and Human Sciences, he launched his own pizzeria, Azzip Pizza, in his hometown of Evansville, Indiana.

His concept: custom pies with unusual and fresh, healthy toppings — like locally raised chicken and baby spinach — served in under 5 minutes. Niemeier (HTM ’12) also creates his own pizza sauces.

He opened a second location in nearby Newburgh, Indiana, and this year he’s opening two more stores, including one near the University of Illinois. And he isn’t stopping there. Niemeier expects to have 10 locations by the end of 2016.

Niemeier enjoys talking to customers and hearing how much they like the food, and reminding himself, “And it came from something I thought of, something I created.”

Niemeier earned Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and won the 2012 Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition for his idea. But starting his business required more than a good plan and capital.

“The biggest hurdle was mental, deciding to go for it,” he says. “To jump from thinking ‘this is a good idea,’ to actually acting on the idea — that was the hardest thing.”

Niemeier encourages young people to act on their inspirations. “When you’re younger in life, you’ve got less to lose,” he says. “It’s a great time to give it a shot.”

And keep your eyes open when visiting Purdue. He hopes to one day open a location near the West Lafayette campus.

UPDATE: Brad Niemeier achieved his goal and opened Azzip Pizza in Lafayette in February 2018. The pizza chain with Purdue roots now operates 7 locations in Indiana and Kentucky. Read more about Azzip Pizza at jconline.com.

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