BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Retail Association (ARA) in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Business today recognized 12 outstanding Alabama retailers representing 10 retail businesses as “Retailers of the Year.” The presentations were made at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center in Birmingham during the 2010 Retail Day Luncheon. The event marked the 11th presentation of the Retailer of the Year Awards since 1999.
Nick Nicholson, general manager of MAFIAoZA’s Pizzeria and Neighborhood Pub, an Italian restaurant in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village, received the Bronze Award in the “Annual Sales $1 Million to $5 Million” category. The company owned by Michael Dolan, Lars Kopperud and Brett Corrieri also has another location in Nashville, Tenn. Suzan Doidge, executive director of the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce, nominated Nicholson for this prestigious award.
“Nick Nicholson of MAFIAoZA’S created a business that has not only thrived in Mountain Brook, but has managed to establish itself as an integral part of the community. He rose to success with his renowned pizzas and savory Italian food,” Doidge noted in her nomination. “This business hit the ground running and has a good business model and performance,” the Retailer of the Year judges noted.
After opening the eatery in 2008, Nicholson led MAFIAoZA’s to experience sales growth in 2009, despite the lagging economy. Nicholson attributes most of this growth to the restaurant’s activities in the community. MAFIAoZA’s is a dependable sponsor for local sports at all levels in Birmingham and even hosts its own street fair.
“MAFIAoZA’S endeavored to connect to the local community and cultivate ongoing customer relationships through a strategic mix of advertising, public relations, promotions and community involvement. The combination of great food, outstanding service and effective promotion of our restaurant led to these comfortable results in 2009,” Nicholson noted in his Retailer of the Year entry form.
In 2009, MAFIAoZA’s made the decision to create and host the Mountain Brook Italian Festival, an annual fundraiser for the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce that enables the restaurant to give back and demonstrate its commitment to the area.
Nicholson has been in the restaurant business for 25 years and in management for 15. He has been an avid volunteer throughout that time and MAFIAoZA’S supports his personal desire to contribute to the community. Nicholson serves as treasurer for The Birmingham Originals, an organization that promotes dining in local independent area restaurants. Another contribution he is making to the Originals this year is serving as senior chairperson for the Oct. 10 Break’n Bread fundraiser, which supports The Pepper Place Market (a local farmers market) and raises money for UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and Children’s Hospital. He and The Birmingham Originals also are working on a fundraiser to help the American Red Cross Gulf Coast Chapter counteract the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said, “Nick Nicholson is a retailer of the year EVERY year to his 38 employees, his customers and the Mountain Brook community!”