SOME (DON’T) LIKE IT HOT

28 Jul

The recent heatwave that’s been sweeping the UK is great. Except when you’re working in our van.

We’ve met lots of street food traders who’ve complained about being hot in their vans (even ice cream van men!) but until you’ve stood in front of a wood burning oven, churning out hundreds of pizzas all day, you have no idea!

This weekend was probably the hottest we’ve EVER been!

We’re not quite sure how we survived, we think we may have actually died and today could be some type of afterlife limbo land?! The temperature outside hit 30 plus degrees; we heard multiple people saying “It’s too hot, let’s go home” and everyone was begging us for water. With our oven fired up to 400 degrees and only our front serving hatch open, we think the temperature inside the van was ‘the sun’.

Sun

Lots of people ask us for advice about setting up a similar business to ours. Go for it, if you like feeling like you’re standing on top of an erupting volcano.

Volcano

HELLO THERE!

18 Jul

Sorry we’ve been quiet, we’ve been a little busy :)

We must apologize as sometimes we go a little AWOL on social media and the web when things get just a little too busy with pizza prep and events. We love our little pizza business but try not to let it take over our lives 24/7!

So what have we been up to? All sorts. Lots of family fun day style events in beautiful parks, beer festivals, summer fetes and of course our regular fortnightly pitches. We’re also in talks to get another couple of regular pitches too, so watch this space for more info soon!

We have a couple of nice local events in Oxford this weekend; Sandford-on-Thames Village Fete on Saturday and the Oxford Bike Fest on Sunday!

Sandford poster

Ox Bike Fest poster

 

Hopefully it won’t be too hot this weekend, We like the warm weather, but hotter than Honolulu? Not when we’re working in the pizza van thank you!

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NEW SUMMER MENU COMING SOON!

17 Jun

NEW MENU SOON...

 

EVENTS V PRIVATE HIRE

10 Jun

Last year the bulk of our summer was filled with private hire bookings; birthday garden parties, corporate launches, weddings and even a man celebrating his new conservatory (which in fairness was actually bigger than our house!)

This year we had to turn down a lot of private hire enquiries after filling up our weekends with one and two-day events and festivals.

Is there much of a difference between the two? Is it better to take a guaranteed amount of money for a specific amount of pizzas? Or is it more lucrative to take your chances at an event where you could potentially make double, triple, even quadruple the amount of profit?

We’ve found this year that some events and festivals we’ve been at haven’t been as successful as planned and in a couple of cases it would’ve been better to have done that wedding. Outdoor events (which are the only events we can do on account of the big fire in our van) are weather dependent and any event can be cancelled at the last minute leaving you with an empty weekend (this has happened to us twice in as many weeks). You also have to play the guessing game! Ah, the guessing game, it’d actually be quite fun to play…if our livelihood didn’t depend on it!

You have a go:

Q. If you put a pizza van in a field with 4,000 people, how many of those 4,000 people will buy a pizza over 3 days?

A: <Enter your guess here>

There is in fact a well-known industry equation to help you figure out how many portions you’ll be likely to sell at any given event, assuming you know the number of expected attendees. But this is not foolproof by any stretch of the imagination.

Sometimes you just want to be told there are 120 people who will want to eat a pizza at a certain venue on a specific date within a three-hour period. You know exactly how much stock to buy and how much to prep for. Brilliant! It’s only an afternoon or evening so you don’t need loads of infrastructure (tent, fridges, freezers, gazebo storage area etc.) as you would at a two or three-day festival.

Also with private hire, if the booking is cancelled close to the date you have the security of a deposit. But most importantly, you’re not paying them for the privilege, they are paying you! Hurrah, money in the bank. Hallelujah. Except there’s a lot of added pressure when you’re catering someone’s BIG DAY or birthday party (everything needs to be perfect and run smoothly) and they can be quite stressful as everyone usually wants to eat at the same time. The advantage of a public event over this is that you do get to sing to your own tune.

Luckily we love doing both types of events! We love making pizza that makes people want to come back for a second pizza. So next year we’re going to go for more of a balance between private hire and public events, using the experience we’ve gained over the past two years we know which weekends we’re likely to want to keep free and which we can fill with lovely white weddings, corporate shindigs and pizza parties!

BOOKINGS NOW OPEN!

So, this is probably a good time to let you all know that we are now taking private hire bookings for 2015! If you would like the best wood fired pizza this side of Italy at your event, get in touch!

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A FUNNY STORY

3 Jun

We were going to write a lengthy post about our experience at a music festival last week but we’ve decided to try and put it behind us now. Instead here’s a bullet-pointed summary (try to keep up):

  • This is going to be a great weekend! 4,000 people in a field! That’s a lot of people, I hope we can keep up with demand
  • We’re here! Where are all the stewards? I’ll just park myself somewhere then…
  • Why is it raining so much?
  • OMG heavy rain!
  • At least we’re not trying to put up a tent in this awful rain! Oh, hang on, yes we are!
  • Where are all the promised 4,000 people? I count 100.
  • Angry trader chat
  • It’s only Friday and it’s raining, everyone must be waiting until Saturday to come. Yes, that’s it.
  • Wakey, wakey rise and sh…  thieves have decided to rob most of the caterers while we slept!
  • Can we have better security on site please? We’ve paid A LOT of money to be here you know
  • Headache
  • Mmm, only 200 people camping you say? Where on earth are all the promised campers?
  • Sunshine, woot!
  • Let’s try and remain positive!
  • Should we put out a missing persons appeal?
  • Night, night. Seriously though, we need some lights out here! We’re in the middle of A FIELD. IT’S ALMOST PITCH BLACK. Surely this isn’t safe?
  • Mmm, I think all the money was spent on Toyah Wilcox and not infrastructure. That’s a shame
  • Let’s just get this over with
  • Headache
  • Hurrah, day 3 and finally we’ve made a tiny bit of profit today
  • Celebrations
  • Thank God that’s over, let’s get out of here
  • OMG we’re stuck in the mud. Of course.
  • Thank God, a tractor has come to tow us out
  • Oh dear God, we’ve crashed into the tractor
  • Let’s spend our tiny profit on getting the van fixed. OK
  • Never again

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We like to share what we learn from our experiences and this event taught us not to pay high pitch fees up front and instead to try and negotiate a percentage-based fee (ideally) or a combination of both. We’re quite happy focusing on quality and not quantity, which is hard to do when you’re chasing money.

It’s not fun when you’re losing money and wasting stock. We really put a high emphasis on enjoying our time when we’re working, this is why we started our own business, so the pressure from trying to regain extortionate pitch fees is not worth it. We’ve found that the smaller, local, low fee events tend to be the ones which actually pay off better on all accounts.

Also, do your research. If photos from the previous year’s event don’t make it look that busy, than it probably wasn’t and it probably won’t be. You could possibly even ask traders who traded the previous year how it went for them. I know we were all new traders at this one, which was quite odd.

It’s hard to say if this event had a poor turnout due to the bad weather (it was pretty bad for the first two days) or whether we had been grossly mis-sold. Surely, a bit of rain couldn’t put off so many people from coming. Who knows?

What we do know is that we’ll never camp when working again. It’s really hard to get a good night sleep. After tossing and turning hundreds of pizzas sometimes we just need a really good shower and if the event does turn out to be less than expected, it’s good to separate yourself from it even if just for a few hours!

WE CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NEARLY JUNE!

22 May

We can’t believe it’s nearly June! Where does the time go? We’ve already done so many events, with even more to come! This is both exciting and quite frankly a little bit scary!

Looking at the calendar ahead we’ve got almost double the events booked in this year than we did last year, which is great for business. What’s more, we keep getting told by local event organisers that we’ve already been recommended to them when we apply for pitches – a great little confidence booster!

Last week’s Wallingford Food Festival went really well and the hot weather and excellent producers brought in lots of visitors! You can read some coverage on it from the Oxford Mail here (note the kids in the photo eating our pizza!). That weekend also opened our eyes to exactly how hot we’re going to be in the van this summer. The answer: Very hot! Who puts a wood fired oven in a steel panelled van?!

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This weekend doesn’t present the same problem however as the forecast is mainly rain and sunny spells. We’re off to Lechlade Festival for three days of music, burlesque, fun workshops and food. We’ve spent all week getting ready for it and the van is now packed to the limit with ingredients, wood, plates…everything including two kitchen sinks!

When getting ready for any event we continually make lists to make sure we don’t forget anything, but we’re taking so much stuff this time that we’re using the rule of thumb that if there’s nothing left in the store room, than that must mean we have everything!

We’re excited to get there and set up, meet the other traders and hopefully have a good weekend but also it will give us a good indication of the scale of events we can feasibly do with the current infrastructure we have. Always learning!

Here’s to a good bank holiday weekend to you all!

WEST HENDRED VILLAGE PITCH

16 May

Like many other street food traders out there, we’re always looking to fill those weekdays with work, so we were delighted when we were asked to take on a local pitch at West Hendred Village Hall in Wantage, Oxfordshire!

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Working in collaboration with a local events team called the Hendred Hatters, this event was part of a fundraising initiative with 50p from every pizza sold going towards local community projects! We’ve always known pizza can do great things, and this just proves it!

We are going to be at West Hendred Village Hall car park every other Wednesday from 5pm-8pm, our first time being last Wednesday 14th May!

As with any new trading spot, we always try and err on the side of caution, trying our best to guess the amount of pizzas we’re likely to sell. What we weren’t expecting was a massive turnout and we hadn’t realised an email had gone around the entire West and East Hendred villages! It was a lovely, sunny evening too. Thus, we sold out by 6:30pm with just under 80 pizzas!

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What did we learn? We need to take more dough balls next time and it’s not nice turning away little boys who turn up in their pyjamas looking for pizza!

All in all we had a great time and received some great feedback on our pizzas. What’s more, it was only a ten minute drive home! I guess in the street food industry, that’s what you call a good day’s trading!

We’ll be back there on Wednesday 28th May – so if you missed out last time please come again!

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