Dateline: 25 August 2013
|The Forno Bravo Primavera 60 (photo link)|
Marlene and I visited the Ithaca Farmer's Market in Ithaca, New York yesterday. We try to get there at least once every summer. It's a great place to just sit and watch the happy mob of diverse humanity. And it's a good place to eat. Our primary objective was to get a pizza cooked in a portable wood oven.
The thin-crust pizza for $7.50 was good, but it would have been better with more toppings, though I don't think thin-crust pizza is structurally suited for holding a lot of toppings.
It happens that we were at the market for "business" purposes as much as pleasure. We are thinking that a mobile wood-fired pizza business might be ideal for our youngest son, James, to pursue. He likes the idea, and was supposed to come with us to the market, but he had to work. He works at a local diner in town.
James isn't much interested in going to college, and I'm okay with that. Why go if you're not interested? Besides that, the whole paradigm of higher education is changing. Kids are going to college, incurring enormous debt to get a degree, and a lot of them can't find a job afterwards. Many end up working in a restaurant.
I'd rather help my son start an entrepreneurial business than help to pay for an education that is a waste of time and resources. So we're looking for an entrepreneurial idea that suits James' personal inclinations.
I like this business idea because I like pizza, and so does most everyone else. I like the idea because it can involve a whole family working together to contribute to the success of the business. I like the idea because it is focused on serving local people and contributing to local community. I like the idea because it can utilize locally-raised foods in season. I like the idea because it doesn't involve a significant "brick-and-mortar" investment.
The Fire Within is a company that trains and equips people to run their own mobile pizza business. But the 3-day training is expensive, and the mobile ovens are very expensive. I would finance both of those things if I thought James would take the business seriously. But he is 18 years old (almost 19) and, though he is a responsible kid, I'm not ready to put my hard-earned and limited resources into a business idea that I'm not absolutely certain will be taken very seriously and pursued with passion and commitment.
So, for now, we will pursue this idea one step at a time. The 2nd step (after discussing it and doing some initial research) may be to buy a small wood-fired pizza oven, like the Forno Bravo oven pictured above. That oven is only a one-pizza oven (but it cooks in less than 2 minutes). It weighs 450 pounds and costs nearly $3,000, delivered. That's a lotta money to cook a pizza!
But I wouldn't buy it to cook pizza as much as to see if James can learn and master the craft of making pizza (I'm sure he can), and (more importantly) to see if he will develop a passion and greater vision for the mobile, wood-fired pizza idea. He has a family and a lot of friends who could help critique his pizza-making efforts, and help him if he does make it a business.
Beyond that, at 450 pounds, I see no reason why that oven could not be configured onto a small trailer and made into a mobile catering oven for small events (look at this little mobile oven).
We will take this idea one step at a time, and if the passion and vision doesn't develop, well, then we have a practical outdoor oven that we can use. It wouldn't be a total loss.
Does anyone reading this have any experience with wood-fired pizza ovens, or with a mobile wood-fired pizza business?