Pizza Trucks Parade

Leading the parade and and culinary delight at Sports Haven Wednesday afternoon to mark the 10th anniversary of his rapidly growing New Haven business and the success of the idea across the state and country is Doug Coffin’s Big Green Pizza Truck, also known as a 1940s International Harvester KB5 green and wood beauty equipped with nifty wood-burning oven.

When Coffin began a decade ago he said, there already were vehicles, including old trucks with rigged up ovens, selling pizza at county fairs. He said “My contribution was to mount a wood-fired oven on an antique truck and to do it as catering”.

He said there are approximately 15 businesses, with different vehicles in the state.

On Wednesday a dozen trucks lined up, including Sal Ajro’s 1975 reconfigured fire truck, previously owned by Cape Elizabeth, Maine, fire department. Still with the concept of wood-fired pizza a step further, when his Verona/Southington pizza business was struggling due to the economy, Ajro purchased the vehicle four years ago for $15,000. It was one day while he was sitting in his business drinking a glass of merlot with a friend and considering about shifting to a vending pizza business, when a fire truck drove by…Bingot! And eureka. After that, Ajro now has 4 trucks and a booming business.

“I don’t want to bring too many,” to the pow-wow, he said. He said kids play with the sirens and fire gauges. “It’s a concept a lot of kids love.”

Eventually, Coffin’s business went viral and expanded exponentially. When he bought his first vehicle, he said it was a “carcass” for $5,000. He then attached the oven, the sink, of course, then eventually the espresso maker. “I stopped counting when the the cost went above $60,000.”

Christian Chieppo, an employee for ten years, estimated the trucks get “ten miles a gallon, and worth every pizza slice.” Now, Coffin’s business includes 30 employees and produces $1 million in pizza sales, with one thousand pizza parties a year.

He said he wanted to reconstruct trucks from different decades but “these seem to have a timeless character.” These were purveyed from four International Harvesters, of 1946, 1947, 1948, and 1949 vintage, with another vehicle coming up.

After the trucks were gathered up at Sports Haven, they caught people’s attention through honking or other pizza-truck appropriate noises, and strolled down to Long Wharf, where they drove down I—95 to Milford. Their plan was to be back by 3pm at Sports Haven where Coffin and his crew will be waiting to give out free samples and slices to around 300 to 1000 people.

Posted by Diane Araga, on April 16, 2013 at 12:00 PM