Two childhood friends who share a passion for food have joined forces to begin their own mobile brick oven pizza company in the Catonsville area.
When Megan Lanasa and Trey Kirby, both 27, saw a need for a brick oven pizza restaurant in Catonsville, they decided to open BricknFire Pizza Co.
The mobile pizza operation features a brick oven attached to a trailer. Its home base is in front of the Breadery, a bake shop owned by Lanasa's parents in Oella.
"We're all about great quality food and we love getting the community involved," Lanasa said, sitting in the office of her parents' business on a rainy Wednesday afternoon.
Parts for the brick oven traveled all the way from Italy and were assembled in California, Lanasa said.
Lanasa said she grew up in the food service business and wanted to follow in her parents' footsteps.
"From the very beginning, I knew she was either going to become a teacher or a shop keeper," said her father, Michael Lanasa, 60.
Trey Kirby, who works as a project coordinator for a telecommunications company, said he's ready to follow his passion for food.
"I worked in different kitchens throughout college as a cook, and that's how I found my love for cooking," Kirby said. "I got a desk job and found cooking is where my true passion is."
The best friends said they were ready for a change and wanted to begin their own business.
"It's a lifestyle change," Megan Lanasa said. "We both decided we were ready and just jumped in and did it."
The business partners did research and planning for their business for a year and a half, and attended two week-long programs in California and Colorado to learn about the best ways to cook brick oven pizza and run their business.
They served 350 customers on their opening day, May 3, in Oella, Lanasa said.
Lanasa stretched the dough and topped the pizzas, while Kirby cooked the pizzas in the 850-degree brick oven. The process went "very smoothly," Lanasa said.
Lanasa's father helps make the pizza dough and offers storage space at his bake shop, while Kirby's father, John, helps deliver the pizzas from where they are stretched and topped inside the Breadery, to the brick oven outside.
"It's fun," Megan Lanasa said. "It's what we like to do and we get along great."
After their opening day, both were encouraged to find support from the community for their business.
"It's all finally coming together and it's worked out nicely so far," Kirby said.
The past two months has been a learning process for the friends and they are able to run a smoother operation, Lanasa said.
They're making their pizzas slightly larger at the request of their customers, Lanasa said.
They serve six varieties of pizza with fresh dough made from Italian 00 grind flour that is prepared and stored at the Breadery. The pizzas are topped with San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy and locally sourced cheese, vegetables and herbs, Lanasa said.
"We're using quality ingredients and using local ingredients when they're available," Lanasa said.
They even grow their own herbs to top the pizzas.
Varieties range from plain cheese to Margarita with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato over red sauce, and cost between $9 and $14. Three seasonal pizzas are offered which change daily.
On a recent Saturday, pizzas topped with soppressata, an Italian dry sausage; locally grown red and golden beets; mozzarella and basil; and chocolate hazelnut spread Nutella with fruit were served piping hot from the brick oven.
While they hope to open a restaurant in the future, they're unsure of how their budding business will grow.
"The mobile thing is kind of the way to go now," Lanasa said. "Who's to say we can't buy these ovens and be in five different places Saturday?"
So far, they're busy Wednesday through Sunday, Lanasa said.
"We're doing very well," she said.
The mobile brick oven can be found once or twice a month at the Catonsville Farmers Market Sunday mornings on Frederick Road, Boordy Vineyards on Thursday evenings and in front of the Breadery on weekends, Lanasa said.
However, their schedule is subject to change. The best way to find out where the brick oven will be is to follow them on social media, through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, Lanasa said.
On Saturday, July 26, the pizza oven will be located in front of the Breadery from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.