Jake, Mason, and Zach: The University of PizzaJul 6th, 2012 | By Mike Schwartz | Category: Front Page, Lead Article, People, Uncategorized
When one walks along or drives down Market Street, it is difficult to ignore a large commercial van parked on the east side of the road between the post office and the Lynden Gallery. On the side of the truck, painted in bold letters is “University of Pizza”. This is the answer to the question, “Why is the van there?” It is a mobile pizza restaurant that is the brain child of Jake Elliott, 22; Mason Elliott, 20; and Zach Myers, 20. All three grew up in Elizabethtown and graduated from the Elizabethtown Area High School. The Elizabethtown Journal caught up with Jake, Mason, and Zach to find out more about the University of Pizza (UP).
EJ: When did the University of Pizza open for business? Where is your main location?
UP: We opened April 2011. We operate on South Market Street between Lynden Gallery and the Post Office.
EJ: How did the idea of a food truck come about? What are the advantages over a permanent structure?
UP: Jake had spent years developing his pizza recipe and food trucks have become increasingly popular nationally. It was simply the most direct route to being able to serve our food. Our youth makes obtaining financing for a building difficult, but the truck allowed us to open with no debt. Additionally, the truck allows us low operating costs and the ability to change our location if it became necessary.
EJ: What attracted you to Elizabethtown? Do you locate the truck in other cities or at special events?
UP: As stated above we are all from E-town and wanted the opportunity to give something back to the town that raised us. Thus far, we have operated strictly in Elizabethtown, almost exclusively in our normal spot, but we recently provided food at a basketball tournament held at the park.
EJ: Where there any special permits, regulatory requirements, or challenges that you needed to attend to get the business up and running?
UP: We operate under the same health license as any restaurant in the state. Additionally, the borough extended their solicitor’s license to us to allow us to operate within the borough limits. One large challenge before opening was to alter the equipment in the existing truck to meet our needs.
EJ: What do you offer on the menu?
UP: Our primary sellers are our pizza, wings, and the cheese steaks that we debuted in January. Also new for this year is our selection of premium pizzas featuring pies such as the Fully Loaded Meat Pizza, the white pizza, and perhaps our favorite, the hot honey chicken pizza.
EJ: Is there anything we should look for in the future regarding The University of Pizza? For example, are there any regular special offerings or special menu items?
UP: We are currently in the process of setting up our delivery service which will be coming very soon. We run daily specials which customers can stay updated on via our Facebook page.
EJ: Pizza requires a very hot oven and a lot of power. How does the truck provide the necessary infrastructure for a pizza restaurant?
UP: The truck is equipped with two 100 lb. propane tanks which provide for all our cooking needs. Our fans, lights, etc. are powered by two Honda generators.
EJ: What kind of response, if any, did you receive from nearby businesses?
UP: Though we haven’t received any word directly, we have heard from customers that some of the local pizza shops are not terribly happy about the additional competition. However, we welcome the competition. We grew up eating the local pizza and would not have opened if we didn’t think we could offer something special. We have full faith in both our product and service and would like nothing better than to one day have a full-scale restaurant in town.
We would also like to emphasize that we are incredibly grateful for our customers and their continued support. We could not ask for a kinder group of people to serve. Through our interactions with each individual customer, it has become crystal clear that The University of Pizza is much greater than just serving pizza. It has become the opportunity to meet, and have a conversation with, people that we otherwise would never have met. It puts a smile on every one of our faces to be able to give them and their families a meal that they can sit down and share together. For this we are truly thankful.