Why did I ever decide to do this? the truck life was so much simpler

March 6th, 2014

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know pretty much the whole story, every gritty detail, every bit of cornmeal stuck up under my fingernails, every knuckle blow from the oven floors, every little problem we’ve encountered, and I’m compelled to keep this online journal and compile the information, the story. Some day I’m going to look back and hopefully be able to answer the question in this week’s title. Why did I ever decide to do this, and by this I mean open up a retail location?

Seven weeks into it and I definitely do not have the answer. In fact, more questions keep popping up, as do the responsibilities, the bills, and the amount of work it takes to even run a simple little shop with no tables, no seats, just good eats handed out over a really nice looking redwood counter top. I can’t imagine what running a proper double or triple digit seat capacity establishment would be like. I’m not sure I could handle that, yet.

But I’m not just running a to-go counter, and as the cold and rainy days of winter fade into the distance, I’m remembering what it is we do quite well, cater. All over the bay area, and to some extent northern California with two ovens on trailers. We’ve booked our first Mega destination wedding in Arcata this summer, along with another wedding in Big Sur, and already a dozen street festivals and fairs happening right here in Oakland. This side of the business went “dark” so to speak, after a record setting 28 mobile events in 31 days last October, the rest of our year was pretty slow. How convenient was it that I found the ailing Roma Pizza ready to sell at the end of that run? Very. That kept us busy all right.

Now, March 5th, and the email-request machine has been turned back on at full power, quote requests are coming in from all directions across multiple computer interfaces, the iPad, the iPhone, the Laptops. Press people are also contacting us now that we’ve been stationary and open for over 6 weeks. Word is getting out. These are all good things I need to stay on top of as the boss.

The Doughjo is sustaining itself and gaining popularity with the community. My crews are solid and they can keep the lights on while I run around crazy. The inside decor is pretty much done, new handmade custom chalkboard menus are almost finished. I’m starting to turn my attention to the facade treatments. New vinyl stickers have been made, along with brand new outdoor signs in the Final production stages, being generated by our friends at Fast signs Oakland. I’m getting ready to do some much needed painting, just in time for Spring.

Come April, I won’t have time for such luxuries, I’ll be leading catering shifts in the field ah-gain, slingin pies, gettin flour in my eyes, and having a good time doin it. I’m looking forward to getting back out on the streets, so watch out bay Area, the big black van and the 7000 lb. pizza beast is firing up once again for an amazing festival season. We hope to see you soon out there or in here, at 4166 MacArthur Blvd. Let’s hope they update the Street view after I get the new signage up…

Some days at the Doughjo are so interesting you just gotta blog about ‘em

February 22nd, 2014

As the title implies, yesterday, February 20th, 2014 was no ordinary day at the new headquarters for operations. The day started out much like any other day, but something was in the air, and I was not aware of what was to come. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, what did transpire seems kind of normal for Oakland, and the world these days. I got to the shop at about 9:45 am, and started figuring out the day’s prep schedule. We don’t really start looking at the phone till 3 pm most days so if its not ringing with telemarketers and solicitors of all ilk, then I’m cool with that. (a little secret, we only answer the phone for relatively local area codes in our “off-hours”, so we will pick up if you call from the Bay Area and want to make a pre-order.) I was trying to get our tunes online but got distracted and hadn’t noticed we had no internet or phone connection until the landlord came by around 11 am, to see if our phones were working.

I was like, Uh, why do you ask? I think so, but, sure enough no signal, and the router was blinking red. We then realized what had happened. We believe our building was the victim of an attempted robbery. The would be perps used big tin snips or wire cutters and severed all the phone and data lines they could see outside on the back wall, including the main AT&T cable that runs back to the pole. I figured they tried to deactivate the alarms or something, and they must’ve gotten scared off or realized their plan did not work. You’d have to be some CIA ninja to disable our alarm with a pair of wire cutters and a CIA issued Crackberry. If you can knock our communications satellites in space the I’m screwed, but if not…

When I entered the place I saw no obvious signs of forced entry to either our front door or the back door. Anyone else looking at our doors may think otherwise, as they’ve both been hacked at dozens of times with the previous owners, but they are thick, and well fortified. Everything’s locked up and hidden all over the place. We don’t have much to steal, a couple refurbished Apple products, a craigslist-scored 1990′s era stereo, $200 in pepperoni, a decent printer, and like a couple hundred bucks at any given time. We do have three all-light cameras and a DVR pointed at the important areas. We are adding a fourth camera to an undecided location outside our back door as a result of this incident. Our landlord said that the Everett and Jones down the block was successfully broken into, so maybe they were just out to do something somewhere. That’s the second time in less that two months for E&J, and from what we’ve heard, pretty par for the immediate MacArthur Course. I.E. this may happen again. Time to lay some pipe, or well conduit at least. Protect our data lines!

To begin the crisis management plan we have in place (which is none), I got one the phone with the beginning of many an automated call system navigation gamer, starting with O.P.D. Tried to report the incident, but we had nothing on anyone. All we could do was file a report online. Did that, Check. Next was AT&T, henceforth known as “them,” to set up the repair ticket and eventually, after the suggestion of a Facebook fan, establish call-forwarding. Brilliant. Yes I’ll get that happening. Ahh, no phone line, right. Ok Call them from mobile device. Account number? passcode? please say or type…Let’s just say I have it memorized now. In between all of this there was another incident I happened to get involved in.

I was out back to take a call, and a minivan pulled up, smoking from all sides. I’m like, pretty normal because there’s an O’Rielly Auto parts across the street, smoking cars do appear from time to time in East Oakland. I peered over towards the car as the man opened the hood just to kinda lend my advice to the situation. If you knew me as a teenager, I had a lot of car incidents involving flames, steam, smoke and you name it. He was with a small child, who we both told to move away as soon as I saw freakin flames coming out from behind the engine block. I ran inside and grabbed an extinguisher, and maybe over-did it with the Halon blast, but that shit did tha trick! Car was no longer flaming, and the side of our building wasn’t gonna suffer any blast. Several people have since told me it takes a little while for a car to blow up but I was having one of these days and I wasn’t wasting any Time.

After that the day seemed a little easier, until the top oven went out. If you’ve been following along with our feeds, the ovens have been the bane of my existence since we opened. The ones we bought with the place hadn’t seen that much action in some time and well, just weren’t up to the task. I think we killed them in our first week, and have since gotten replacement ovens. Right away. Brand new stone floors in some older refurbished ovens. But I’ll be honest here folks, they’ve had some troubles. The guys that sold them to us have been good to us and have done everything they can think of to make them work, driving back and forth from the L.A. area. I think we have a few more parts to replace and we’ll be good as new. When they work, they work great, but when they go out it kinda sucks. For the most part, everything is working out as long as we check them every 1/2 hour we’re good.

The service Thursday night began hecka quiet. No phone line and we were all calling to see if my cell would ring. The phone line finally made the connection, and the call forwarding was working. I asked a customer what number the called to confirm. Sweet. The night progressed and all was well. The next day (today) AT&T was on it like a bonnet, and was onsite before me. They got the lines repaired before 2pm, and had to replace a whole bunch of stuff. We were back up and running. Friday night. Ready Set Go. Month number one done. First possible robbery attempt, check. Onto month number two.

Fist of Flour Doughjo is OPEN! Reflections on the past six open days

January 24th, 2014

Just in case you’ve missed it, we have officially opened the door to the Doughjo for limited dinner service, weekly from 5-9pm Wednesday-Sunday. We have been open six whole days! (at the time of this post) and we’re going strong, despite several minor obstacles we’ve encountered during all of this including the top oven blow out, the almost electrical meltdown, and learning how to use the hold/mute feature properly on our new phone. I hope I’m not over-sharing with everyone here, but this is how I blog.

I want everyone to know, we will start this small, and grow into our new shell, just like we did with our First trailer, heck, just like our first few BYO private parties in my back yard with the first hand built pizza oven. I overheard a customer tonight say they had been in attendance to one of those early parties and had my “backyard pizza.” That was four years ago, in the winter of 2010, maybe the spring. Tonight, another blast from the Laurel past came in who worked with the Oakland Food Connection when we were first starting out, slingin at the Farmers market in the Giant Burger parking lot in the fall of 2010. I hope the customer who always paid with $2 bills finds out we’re back in the Laurel, and stops in to say hi. I do remember a lot of cold rainy mornings back then in the early days. What did happen to all of our rain this year by the way?

I do find it rather ironic, I and my crew have spent the last three Bay area winters working through all kinds of conditions in a 10×10 fabric tent, and now we’ve taken shelter under some brick and mortar in the driest year and warmest winter for some time, right across the street from where we went public without actual permission from anyone of authority over such matters. Cosmic solid with a twist perhaps? Not sure, but it feels good being where we are. I looked at several places around Oakland before finding our new digs: Downtown, Mid town, Temescal, Emeryville border, you name it, if it had a for rent sign I was knockin. We even tried to make a couple deals, thought we had this or that, and none of those panned out. I think we were supposed to land right here, close to home where we had planted roots. I mean I must’ve sat and stared a dozen times over at Roma Pizza from the Giant Burger parking lot with a terrible hangover at 9am saturday morning going, I wonder what kind of thing they got going there? I bet they’d sell. I dunno, I wasn’t quite ready for that. I think I had only sold 20-30 pizzas by then over a couple weekends. But I saw it. I thought someday, maybe, a little tiny takeaway spot. I vaguely remember wondering if they’d call the cops or the health department on us because we were a similar business operating as a rogue unit of one guy. Just me. Little did I know, they weren’t inviting anyone of authority around that place lemme tell ya…

Now I stand in the “fishbowl” as we affectionately call our storefront of glass and security bars, gazing across MacArthur Boulevard at the Giant Burger parking lot, looking back at a simpler time where ideas and inspiration were all around me. That feeling is back again. A new space, a new set of ovens and a whole bunch of new menu ideas and extended hours in the works. Not to say I haven’t had the feeling all along, every step of the way, but the entity reaches a certain point where its alive, sustaining, growing, moving, doing, learning, adapting and surviving without as much help from me. It’s a good feeling, and a scary one too. I believe the line that comes to mind was “feed me Seymour.”

Come see us at the Doughjo, 4166 MacArthur Blvd, right off the High St. exit from 580. Please use appropriate navigational devices to guide you. I think most of our immediate neighbors have been following their sense of smell. We start taking the night’s orders at 4:30. Call 510 531-6367. Revised_Limited_menu012314

So when is the Doughjo Opening?

January 7th, 2014

Man, oh man, I have to tell you all I am overwhelmed with the supportive response we’ve been getting from neighbors, passers by, internet fans, and random phone callers. Which by the way, my cell phone is the phone number that has been associated with our mobile business. I am not answering my phone right now for unrecognized numbers. I encourage voice mail messages if you are truly needing to get a hold of me, I will call you back.

I have been “working” with the the local monopoly to get an actual land line at the new space, and its harder than you’d think. We will be getting a new Phone number for orders and making some menu/flyers for the neighborhood, but I can’t go to print until the monopoly confirms the new number. Perhaps if I hadn’t cut all the existing cables in there beforehand, I wouldn’t need a technician to come out and run another line from the box. All that stuff had to go. Period. So I’m sorting that out Wednesday morning. Tuesday (tomorrow) is going to be fun. Every piece of equipment is getting a massage with happy ending, starting at 8 am. Every floor tile is being scraped off of leftover paint, every nook and cranny polished, because all the walls are now covered in stainless steel. We can polish crannies.

The next few days are critical. We have our Health inspection this Wednesday 1/8/14, and that will determine if I followed directions closely or not, and will help determine our much anticipated opening date (which is what this post was supposed to be about). Several friends advised me to have a preliminary inspection with what was there, and they were solid advisers. I think we’ve hit everything on the report, and we should be ready to open by mid January as planned. As of this date (1/6/14) I cannot legally say when we’ll be open. All I know is I’ve done everything I could to make this happen. We’re going to open on time, not quite “finished,” but thats Ok with me. Some stuff is still being made, some little details are still being worked out. F*&k it. The kitchen is 95% fully operational, and I’m ready to Cook!

As some of you know We’ve been working almost non-stop since late October 2013 when we took over Roma Pizza. I want you all to now close your eyes, and imagine a different landscape. One that has been transformed by the basics: cleaning, painting, a little interior decorating, and a whole lotta focus on the food! To clarify, The Doughjo as it is now officially known by will be a take-away establishment, focused on call-in and online ordering, with walk-in pickup. We will not have tables to sit at for Dine-in service, but we will have some really nice counter tops for you to stand at and grab a slice or a Stromboli, maybe a salad too. I’m still sourcing red leather bar stools, so there will be some “seating” eventually. We gotta start small and build up. I’d rather spend money on our ingredients than a driver and fuel costs to be quite honest. Besides there’s services now that can do the delivery for us, so we will consider that too…

Laurel District prepare for liftoff! The countdown begins, T-Minus 10 days and counting…

Not Shavin till we open! it’s Go Time at FOF Headquarters!

December 21st, 2013
I'm not shaving my beard till we open!

I’m not shaving my beard till we open!

Allrighty, some of you have been asking what’s going on here? You may have noticed I decided that shaving was not as important as the project I had embarked on. As a result of the length of time it has taken to make the Doughjo project happen, I have acquired a pretty much full beard. I decided that this would help in hiding my true identity amongst the people of the Laurel District, trying additional distractions like wearing my painting pants to breakfast at Full House Cafe, walking around the neighborhood disheveled and distracted, taking my partner’s car up to the shop instead of one of the vans. But people are onto us! I cannot hide, and I’ve met so many wonderful people over the last few weeks and I can’t wait till we can open!

This is our last update and blog post until we are solid with a date for opening. As of December 20, 2013, The countertops are well under construction, and the stainless work is slated for beginning tomorrow. The additional sinks needed are en route from Kansas (last time I checked the U.P.S. updates), this can be a problem as I used to work for U.P.S.. Many moons ago in a youthful body, over the holidays, it’s a no-holds-barred mentality, every package must ship, no matter what it takes. I fear for our new mop sink’s life “in-transit.” Otherwise, things are really looking good. I’m saying, for the record, soft opening by January 11th or days before. So, please stop asking me. It’s all in the Cards now.

As I mentioned over the facebook posts, my dad drove up to help us paint the place. Now I can say that phase is 98% done thanks to his speed and agility. Several members of the crew also came through to make stuff happen, everyone rocked it and we all ate Giant Burger, and LIKED it. I’ve always known where I got it from, but my Dad comin up and schooling us all on painting helped reinforce that idea. Pops taught me a lot, and I’d like to think I’ve always been learning. That has definitely helped reduce our opening costs, if ever so slightly. Every bit that we can do ourselves helps keep our prices down. From painting to plastering car windows with advertisements, we’re going to let our new neighborhood know that there is a Take-away spot with families and working folks in mind. The ability to stop off and pick up a wholesome meal for dinner will be one of our primary focuses as we move towards opening. Get ready Laurel District and surrounding areas, good pizza is on it’s way!

Stay tuned as our progress continues. Join the mailing list for special happenings and Exclusive invites to our happenings in January. Help us test drive the new flagship location for our operations.

Where to start as the next chapter Begins

December 9th, 2013

There’s been so much going on the last few months, I’m just going to dive in and start catching everyone up, starting with the present. After a tremendous 28 events in October, and an equally busy summer schedule I was feeling like we were growing out of our current kitchen. After several other attempts to buy a storefront of my own had fallen through, I stumbled upon a diamond in the rough.

One morning in mid October, I had to replace the faucet on our handwashing station before a big gig. On my way to the hardware store, I drove by the Roma Pizza place and saw a for sale sign, took note, and drove on, got the necessary plumbing things. I grabbed the number and gave the guy a call about an hour later, arranged to meet Monday night. By Wednesday I cut a check and closed Roma Pizza, bought it, and immediately got rid of most everything not bolted down.

THe Doughjo’s location had been chosen. The name had already come from our crew, after a crazy gig, I think Patrick said it, “Let’s call it the Doughjo!” I had other names in mind but the more I thought about it, the more Doughjo stuck. It’s our home base, training facility for new recruits, and operations for our catering and mobile event services. A perfect name that plays into the overall play on the Fist of Fury and underlying martial-arts-like style to pizza spinning, using the fists, flour, etc. I’m not sure how many people actually get that, but it’s usually pretty neat when they do. So I bought a small Pizzeria Take-Away spot near my house. Now we’re pushing really hard to open and move in by late December, early January.

I’ll admit I’ve never done this before, so I’ve really been wingin it. I figured that after three years running a completely portable, Health Department Approved, mobile kitchen, how hard can a Brick and Mortar be? All the stuff is always there, you don’t have to worry about bringing enough water, you can plug things in, and most stuff is right where it should be most of the time. We’re all very excited to make a go of this in the Laurel District. We’re going to keep it simple, just a Take-away menu to start, with limited hours through the winter. We want to put a lot more finishing touches in place over the next couple months, and really “open” by spring.

We’re moving into the next phase of the transformation, we’ve started to primer the walls, and we’re getting ready for a full coat of paint head to toe. Then we’ll move onto the last few details and try for a re-inspection before the Holiday vacations start. So wish us luck, and keep your eyes open for our first round of testing the waters in early January!

Hot Hot Hot! big fun in the summer time with Fist of Flour Pizza

July 1st, 2013

I can’t believe its July 1st already. It seems like it was just April when I ordered my last cord of wood. Well it was, but today we got another shipment. Yes I’ve pretty much burned through 128 cubic feet of natural almond firewood in about two months. Running two ovens is no joke. We’ve been able to pull at least one or two double gigs each week since the old trailer was repaired after our near death experiences, so that’s about 6 fires a week. And there’s more to come. Our summer calendar is all full up with amazing gigs for the whole family. We’ll be bringing fresh hot pizza all over the bay and beyond. Take a look at our calendar page and bookmark us today!

In addition to my own gigs, I am now a part of a new collective of tented Pop-up vendors, called lOAKal mobile food. Born out of the fallout from the Oakland First Friday scene, we came together to organize ourselves and create new opportunities for one another here in Oakland. Most of us operate out of tents and are still building steam and fan bases. It’s often difficult for smaller vendors to get started as a lot of the events focus exclusively on the big Expensive trucks, so we’ve joined forces and combined resources to create new pods that will feature local, artisan foods at affordable prices. We’ve already hosted two small events at Linden Street Brewery, and hope to create several more as the summer season continues. Visit our website and the facebook page to get more info!

Meanwhile the search continues here for a new home base and possible storefront location. We are looking everywhere in the Oakland area, and have a few nice spots picked out. We’re getting all of those ducks in a row and hope to have some really good news within the next month. Some of you may know we had a really good line on a small spot downtown, but somehow, we lost that space. Apparently more money trumps good intentions and handshakes. I’ve always said, get it in writing, and we didn’t get it that time. So, we press on, and we know that the right thing will find its way to us, just as this whole business found its way to me three years ago.

Keep your eyes open, your ear to the ground and your nose to the grind wheel. we’ll make our own reality. Hope to see you all out there soon!

Two, vans, two ovens, two crews comin just for you Bay Area!

January 22nd, 2013

Well, after our last post being so dramatic, I thought I’d bring everyone up to speed with all things Fist of Flour. I’m happy to report that all is well here. In fact, we are moving forward with great speed these days. We’ve added another person to the roster, we’re looking for one more, and we’re flushing out the kinks in our two trailer world.

We finally did it! After months of preparations, purchasing, and procrastinating, we are now capable of running two small scale gigs at the same time, or same day. Sunday January 20th, 2013 will go down in history as our first successful Double mission. I was with the old oven down at a local eatery, BSIDE BBQ catering their staff holiday party, and Zac and Mia ran the big oven over at Commonwealth Cafe & Pub for our joint venture Pub trivia night.

Lucky for me, Zac was nearby. Someone forgot to check to see that he had everything he needed in the mini van to do a small catering gig. I forgot the Metal peel which is pretty much Essential for removing pizzas from the oven, and I forgot a clip light, which is also essential for cooking outdoors at night. I think we lost the metal peel we had on board, so I didn’t technically forget it. I sent my newest assistant James over to Commonwealth to get spare items from the big van. This is why I have at least two of everything, and why the big van is so full of random stuff.

The mini van has been all kitted out now. The paint job and new tires really make it look sharp. Got all the decals done by our friends down at FastSigns Oakland. We also had them print up some new Front of house signage, two big matching banners, one for each tent. Now you can see my fist from miles away. We had to fix the old tent that broke a few months back while we were serving the Bay Area Derby Girls at the Richmond craneway. The old oven’s patchwork is holding nicely, but the trailer still has a little wobble. I’ve got a friend and former Street food enthusiast enlisted to help with moving the oven forward, and rebalancing the trailer properly. We’re gearing up to make some modifications to the old beast like adding some side panels to the underside, putting in a door, and customizing the countertops a bit more.

Finally, we’re trying some new things at gigs now too! We’ve added a Mac N Cheese single serving to the menu at certain locations, and we’ll be offering more salads to have alongside or on top of our fresh hot pizza. The pizza menu is also growing and changing as we play around in the test kitchen, which just got some new matching gas ovens. After working with the stone floors of our mobile units, traditional metal trays just don’t cut it, so I fitted a couple sheet pans with firebricks to cook on, just like the ones we used in our first oven. We’ll be better able to simulate the crispy texture of our Street pizzas, and kill them by sticking them in cardboard boxes.

We’ve started offering Limited delivery service to Prizefighter Bar in Emeryville Wednesday nights, and as that grows we’ll be spreading it to more bars that lack good food to drink with. At least that’s the plan. If we can master delivery, we may start offering Limited delivery service from many of our gigs in and around Oakland. If you live within 1-2 miles of our current location and our mini van is available, or you’re drinking at a favorite bar and you spot one of our delivery flyers, we’ll come to you! But give me a few weeks to get this all figured out. Pretty soon, you won’t necessarily need facebook to find us, because we’ll already be there!

The Webster Tube, It’s wider and longer than you’d think

December 13th, 2012

Good morning folks. it is now the day after one of the scariest things that could happen almost did. I started writing this last night while it was fresh in my mind.

What I am about to write is true, only the names of the parties involved have been omitted for reasons of security.

I write to you from the safety of my home. Well comforted with a belly full of Shepard’s Pie from one of my favorite pubs here in Oakland, Commonwealth Pub. It’s time I sit back and make a new blog post, to recount a tale of both heroic victory and glimpses of catastrophic failure. Today I sent my newest assistant slash “me in training” off on what could have seemed like a doomsday mission, to drive the first Pizza oven through the Webster tube out to the Navy Base to practice Field manoeuvers. I figured this will be swell, great, no problem. The tube may make him pay attention, this will be fun.

I was wrong, here’s why. The new minivan is quite low to the ground, so the tow hitch and ball needs to be raised up to the proper height to keep the trailer level. I bought this two piece adjustable trailer hitch thinking this would be ideal. It adjusts to the height you need, but it has more play in it than an episode of the X-factor. I did not realize how potentially funky this could be. We hitched up and headed for our target. Everything was fine for a test drive across Emeryville until we hit the tunnel. The transition from Light to dark was a bit strong, and a white beemer was flanking us and would not pass. We got speed wobbles and that led to the trailer whipping back and forth from side to side in the left lane of the tunnel, surrounded by cars and walls made of solid concrete.

Brakes were applied but not effective, and the trailer was pitching back and forth, skidding from side to side, like one of my many nightmares. You could smell the tires burning. After about 12 fishtails without a significant crash, I’m thinking this is still going on and we haven’t actually T-boned yet…I decided to interject with all I could think of, Downshift! Without speaking I grabbed the shifter and dropped it to 1st gear from the passenger seat. That and braking at a constant pressure helped bring everything back into control. My assistant and I nearly came to a crawl in the tunnel, hearts pounding as the trailer regained control slowly, both of us wondering how that didn’t just result in a total catastrophic clusterfuck in the middle of a concrete tube. The guy who was closest to being whipped by the oven and debris gave us a dirty look when he passed. I was like hey it could’ve been worse…

We collected our assholes gathering them up from the floor around us, and continued on around the bend a bit till we could pull over safely and figure out just what the fuck happened back there and how we are not both on stretchers trying to explain to EMT’s what happened. We quickly changed out the hitches for the one i had on board that was too low, but seemed to tow a lot better. We continued onto operation Parking lot like true professionals. Shaken, but not stirred.

My favorite proving ground for trailer navigation is out near the Alameda Skatepark. There’s a lot of open space and usually not too many people around to give you any crap about what you’re doing. Except for today. Apparently, the navy base is divided up a bit between public and private land. The parking lot of the Skatepark is public, but the area across the street is private. We now know this because it was impermissable for us to practice backing up, turning around, and general evasive actions in an empty parking lot. Security was all over us, so we had to move it across the street which wasn’t nearly as fun. We spent a good hour driving the trailer backwards in circles, up little ramps, and around the big hunk of concrete until I was satisfied my assistant was thoroughly dizzy and familiar with the navigation. He’ll need more practice, but he’ll have to get that out on the streets of Oakland. God help us! Cuz we’re rollin two deep now!

2.0 settling in, 1.0 resurrecting itself in a minivan?

November 14th, 2012

What is it you ask I am doing these days? Quite honestly, I don’t know. Trying to do something else with my life with very little guidance. This is the one thing I’ve truly followed through on. So much so that I can’t stop now. It’s getting real up in this parking lot.

Two beasts in the parking lot of the Bitchen Kitchen

People ask me all the time, how do I get me one of these things? A pizza oven trailer, and I laugh, sometimes just a smile, sometimes out loud guffawing, and I say, buddy, you don’t want one of these, much less two of them! Our new massive pizza oven is great, really working well for me. In the last month we’ve cranked out close to 1200 pizzas, our integrity is still there, the product is generally cooking faster, and we’re serving more pizza. Exactly what I had intended. Go big or go home was the motto, and I think that was the right decision.

Picking up the brand new commercial oven

Now that the death star is fully operational, its time to turn my focus back to the original trailer. It’s been hanging out at Linden St. brewery since the beginning of October. Just this week I went over there to check on it after the last round of rain, and we found a new place for it to live closer to the brewery itself. All the guys down there have been really excited, playing games of “will it bake” and keeping it warm for our Thursday nights. She can still make pizzas, it just shouldn’t be driven around too much right now.

Its fragile, and over Thanksgiving I’m going to get a crew in there to patch it up and see if we can’t get another 5000 pizzas out of it before we retire it completely. If we can make it through Summer and we can start running smaller gigs with that, then I can eventually pop that oven off, and replace it with a smaller version of our big oven. At least that’s the theory. The oven was designed to come off in the event of crumble-age. It’s funny after using the new oven, seeing it on Monday morning with a fire in it I was like, dang, how did we do all of that with this little oven? I’m still amazed.

1.0 Parked in its new spot at Linden St. Brewery

Before all of the last two years happened, and before I found shorty the short bus, I had been seeking the perfect Oven transporter, a minivan with All Wheel Drive, perhaps a Chevy Astro or GMC Safari to replace my Chevy S-10 Pickup. The pickup was a great Little 4 cylinder that I drove the crap out of for 15 years, but it was not designed to tow a small pizza oven around. That became obvious the third or fourth time i tried backing it up the driveway. I now know what bent bumper looks like and burnt clutch smells like…

I was surfing Craigslist every day for a new vehicle. For two months I was watching one Astro van from a nearby dealer with all the options I wanted. When I got the $$ to buy something, finally with capital in hand I ran down there and was told it had just been sold. Really, I just saw it online this morning? WTF? Well lucky for me, the ad for Shorty appeared the next day and that was that. Sold. Minivan put on hold, until last Monday.

$horty Too, the next pizza transporter

For the last couple months I was repeating the pattern, searching once again for the minivan of my dreams to resurrect the original oven and complete the original idea. Looked up a known purveyor of minivans and lo and behold, my lil Safari was parked smack dab in the middle of San Leandro. All wheel drive, tinted window mini cargo van with some shelving already in place. I found myself in San Leandro with a few hours to kill a couple weeks ago and decided to go take a test drive while i waited for Shorty’s new brake system and trailer wiring to be installed. The dealer was just a 20 minute stroll through one forgotten landscape. San leandro is a trippy place to say the least. The 70′s are calling and they want their decade back. I do kind of like it down there, it reminds me of much of the mid peninsula area i grew up in without the benefit of the Silicon valley boom, lying there waiting for a rediscovery.

Painted and awaiting Decals! Photoshop Comp

I bought the minivan and have named it $horty Too. My good mid peninsula friend Pete once again offered to do all the paint work on it, and viola, over a weekend and 1.0 is ready for a rebirth. A close match to Shorty’s stylings, with Flat black side panels, white top, and red grill and bumpers. The decals are coming in the next couple weeks, and we’ll be customizing it just a little more before we roll it out and start towing the old oven with it. New tires, painting the rims red, adding chrome rings, and outfitting the inside with the necessary gear to run a small party of up to 70-80 people. Our compact unit will be perfect for those awkward driveway situations, or renegade neighborhood record store parties, Mac N’ Cheese nights across from the patio at Beer revolution, and who knows what other trouble I can get us into. Stay tuned as we send two fists into the streets of Oakland and beyond!