Go with the dough
Travelling pizza maker takes dad's recipes to the streets
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/10/2010 (4495 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
HOW early is too early for pizza?
It’s 9:23 a.m. and Bill Suszynski has just put up a sandwich board advertising his curbside pizza parlour, Rollin’ Dough Pizza.
Within seconds, a man in a suit and tie approaches Suszynski’s screen window to ask what’s hot and ready.
“You’ll have to give me a couple of minutes,” Suszynski says. “I just got here myself.”
“No problem,” the fellow replies, taking a seat on the boulevard and pulling out a magazine.
“It’s like that almost every day,” Suszynski says, in a hushed tone. “I could get here at seven, and I swear there’d be somebody ordering pizza at 7:10.”
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Bill Suszynski’s mission: To boldly go where no man — or pizza — has gone before.
Suszynski is the owner of Rollin’ Dough Pizza — this city’s only pizzeria-on-wheels. At a time of year when most roadside vendors are packing up their smokies and beginning to hibernate, Suszynski is rolling up his sleeves and laying out his long johns as he prepares for his first winter on the streets.
“All of our products are built for year-round use, insulated and heated for the generators and water system,” says Alexandra Moynes, a spokesperson for Pizza Trucks of Canada, the Oakbank-based company that sold Suszynski his custom-made trailer three months ago. But Moynes draws a blank when asked if she knows of any pizza trucks that have operated in as cold a climate as a Winnipeg winter.
“I guess I’ll find out what (demand) is like,” Suszynski says while loading an 18-inch ham and pineapple SSRqza into his propane-powered oven. “And hey — what’s the worst that can happen? If it turns out that I’m not that busy, I can always put SSRqer away till spring, and sign up for a course in business management. Or take a cooking class. My motto is there’s always something you can do in life.”
— — —
According to statistics, the average Canadian orders somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15 takeout pizzas annually. Domino’s and company will be disappointed to hear that Suszynski isn’t your average Canadian.
“Growing up, I don’t remember my family ever getting pizza delivered, even once,” Suszynski says. That’s because Suszynski’s father, Ron, was convinced his hand-tossed, thick-crust pies were better than anything he could get from the Yellow Pages.
“Dad made pizza for us every weekend, pretty much. He’d always try to come up with different recipes and toppings; friends of mine would even ask when ‘pizza night’ was, so they could come over for dinner,” says Suszynski, who grew up in West Kildonan.
Suszynski inherited his father’s recipes after Ron died of cancer. To maintain the family tradition, Suszynski and his wife Veronica began hosting Friday night pizza parties of their own. So when the couple decided to become small business owners about six months ago, they didn’t have to look much further than Suszynski’s dough cutter for ideas.
— — —
Suszynski never entertained the idea of opening his own restaurant, or operating a franchise for an established chain.
“No, I thought mobile right away,” he says, reaching over his niece and co-chef, Alexee, for his stainless steel rolling pin. “I went online to research this type of business, and found out that it’s absolutely huge in places like California.” (It should be noted the mean January temperature in Los Angeles is 15.6 C.)
“What I like about having a trailer is that I don’t have a big lease to worry about. And so long as I have my (food server’s) permit, I can go pretty much anywhere that’s a parking zone, which leaves quite a few options.”
To date, Suszynski has set up shop primarily in the Inkster Industrial Park, and at the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market. He’s also available for private functions such as birthday parties or corporate get-togethers. (Suszynski charges $3.75 per slice, or $19.75 for an 18-inch, two-topping pizza. It takes him about six minutes to bake a full pie.)
“Last month, I did a UFC party in Whyte Ridge. Basically, I parked at the end of this guy’s driveway and in between fights, he and his buddies came outside to eat.”
The night actually turned into an impromptu, meals-on-wheels block party. “First my client’s next-door neighbour wandered over, to ask if he could order a pizza, too,” Suszynski says. “Then a lady a couple of doors down popped by. I think I ended up feeding half the street.”
— — —
“Sounds like fun.”
That was Veronica Suszynski’s response a few weeks ago, after her husband told her they would be spending their Friday night slinging pizzas for a Manitoba Cattle Producers Association function. (Lemme guess: they ordered the meat lover’s?)
Suszynski says the rest of his family has been equally supportive. “Before we started, we had everybody — cousins, nieces, nephews — over to our house, and I cooked one pizza after another. Then I handed out evaluation sheets, asking them to tell me what worked and what didn’t.”
So, did anybody pay Suszynski the ultimate compliment? That is, did his pizza remind them of his father’s?
“Yeah, I definitely heard that,” Suszynski says, steadying his voice. “In fact, one of the next things I plan to do is put up a picture of my dad over the oven.”
For more information on Rollin’ Dough Pizza — or to track its whereabouts on any given day — visit www.rollindoughpizza.com.
Dave Sanderson was born in Regina but please, don’t hold that against him.