When Adam Greenberg of Potomac makes a pizza, he tops it with fresh ingredients, a dash of community service and a heap of generosity.
Laura Johnson/Special to The Gazette
Adam Greenberg of Potomac, owner of Potomac Pizza, has been named the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Leader of the Year.
Known to many as "The Pizza Man," Greenberg, president and founder of Restaurant Zone, the company that owns Potomac Pizza, Potomac Village Deli and Cone Zone, has recently been recognized for his special recipe.
The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce awarded Greenberg with the Small Business Leader of the Year award at a ceremony Nov. 12. The award recognizes a business in the county made up of fewer than 100 employees that experiences substantial growth and provides a positive impact.
Greenberg's commitment to community service is what made him stand out, said David T. Boddie, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce executive vice president.
"It's very rewarding to have a successful entrepreneur also lend his or her ability and resources to better the community as well as his or her own company," Boddie said. "...It's something you would always hope for in all entrepreneurs."
Small businesses, which makes up 90 percent of the economy, play a vital role, Boddie said.
Greenberg said he believes his role as a local businessman includes civic duty. His pizza trucks are often found at various community fund-raisers. This year, Greenberg donated pizzas to charity events such as the Lakelands/Kentlands 5K Run/Walk, Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks and Walk for Hope, a breast cancer 5K benefit.
A familiar face in the community, elementary school students dubbed Greenberg "The Pizza Man" after the traveling Potomac Pizza demonstration program established five years ago. Offered primarily to a group of nearly 200 second- and third-graders, Greenberg visits schools in the Potomac Pizza delivery area and teaches them how to make pizza. Led by Greenberg, he teaches the children economics, how to fold their own boxes, stretch out the dough, smear the sauce, sprinkle cheese and toppings, and take the pizza home to cook.
"I love to see the smiles on their faces," Greenberg said. "It lets me know I'm doing the right thing."
Greenberg said he has donated nearly 10,000 pizzas to charities and schools within the last year.
Bill Dunn of Damascus, who has worked for Potomac Pizza for eight years, said he has been committed to the company because it offers a family atmosphere and is part of a greater cause than making money.
Dunn, 23, whose first position with Potomac Pizza was as a bus boy, said he initially didn't realize that the establishment worked for was about more than making pizzas. "People have stayed around because he takes care of the community and [his staff]," Dunns aid.
Greenberg's career as an entrepreneur started in 1992 when he opened his first establishment, Cone Zone, an ice cream parlor in Bethesda. He took the venture on when he was 20 years old, along with his three other siblings. Greenberg later opened a second Cone Zone in Potomac in 1994. Then, his ambition involved big numbers and a vision of Cone Zones on every street corner.
As he delved into the business, other goals arose. The idea for a pizza shop spurred when Greenberg noticed his Cone Zone clientele often came from a pizza shop next door. The chemistry between pizza and ice cream was obvious to him, and in 1995 he bought the original Potomac Pizza in Potomac Promenade shopping center.
He sold Cone Zone in Bethesda in 1996 and Cone Zone in Potomac in 1997. In 1999, Greenberg opened Potomac Pizza and Cone Zone side by side at the Kentlands Shopping Center in Gaithersburg. He added Potomac Village Deli to his list of restaurants in 2002 as a separate venture. In 2003, he opened his most recent Potomac Pizza in Traville.
"We love Montgomery County," Greenberg said. "This area has been so good to us and the more successful we are the more we'll give back."
In a few years, Greenberg said he would like to open three more restaurants in the county.
"We want to be known as a leader. We want everyone to know that Potomac Pizza is a community restaurant," Greenberg said. "And one day we'll make money."