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Food Truck No.2

Posted: 16/02/2016

With our second birthday approaching, we thought it would be time to share our journey on acquiring our second van!  We learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t in a small van during the first year, which has helped us improve nearly every aspect in the design and visual presentation of our second Food Truck.

The response to Bare Bones has been incredible and meant that after just a few months we were turning down work as we were already booked up. Event Catering is very seasonal, with the summer months being the busiest, for obvious reasons (to dammed cold to stand waiting for a Pizza in the winter months!) During the busy summer months we were having three or four offers of work on the same day, and we knew that having a second van was what we needed to take our business forward.

The process started in October last year, with the main question being what vehicle do we want that’s going to give us more space? To say our Citroen Relay is cramped is an understatement, especially when we only have a working area of 1.5m x 0.9m. One thing is for sure, you better get on with your work mates! Luckily for us, it’s either family members or good friends of the family that get to work in the van. One critical point for any mobile caterer is the vans payload, how much weight can you carry, is the number one factor that drives everything (no pun intend). A 3.5 ton van unfortunately doesn’t mean you can whack 3.5 tons of stuff in the back and off you go. Overloading is very dangerous, affecting braking distances and stability, and will get you pulled quicker than we can cook a pizza. We needed a long wheel base van. More bodywork means less weight you can carry. This really isn’t a lot after you take out the 420kg for our oven and factor in another electric oven so we can operate indoors (more on this in the next post). Luckily for us, we have seen some amazing, and some not so amazing, Food Trucks on our travels which certainly helped in choosing the right van for our needs.

On top of thinking of payload, we also had a few layout changes that would make working in the van more efficient. With a bigger van this time, these changes would be easy to implement, a long with adding a few things that were missing from our first van (tip to any new traders; make sure you have plugs in your sink that are fit for purpose!)

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Mile Stones 2015

Posted: 10/12/2015

As the year draws to a close, it’s that time again to reflect on the past year’s achievements, the highs and lows of running an events catering company like Bare Bones Pizza.

This year was our first full year of trading and we have attended some amazing events, like the Spring Festival in May at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, RHS Tatton Park, lots of Food Festivals, we even travelled to Glasgow for a Foo Fighters concert! We attended lots of Street Food venues throughout the year in; Birmingham, London, Manchester and Cardiff. We catered for five Weddings, numerous Corporate events at Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini , Jaguar, Land Rover and a luxurious Watch Maker, even a Travel Agency launch. We traded at Universities in Warwick, Birmingham, Chester & Loughborough. We have travelled about 14,000 miles up and down the UK, attended 139 separate events throughout the year and still managed to squeeze in four holidays (trust us, we needed them). The weather has, in general, been kind. However, we still had our fair share of wash-out weekends, but Hey that’s the wonderful British weather for you.

Next year’s calendar is already starting to fill up with events we have been asked to return to (the really good ones we generally get booked again before we leave) and its time to consider expanding the business and getting that second van! Plans are already afoot to trade at some very exciting venues in 2016. Places that when we started the business in April 2014, we never thought we would ever have the chance to trade at.

So, if you managed to try one of our pizzas in 2015, told your friends and family about us, then thank you. Thank you to all our fellow traders who have helped us with their advice, the street food community in the Midlands is amazing at helping each other, a big thank you to all of them. A massive thank you to Digbeth Dining Club and Brumyumyum for giving us the opportunities in 2015, which have been a great platform for us, which hopefully will continue in 2016.

The biggest thank you goes to the 16 individuals who have worked in the van during 2015. They have worked so hard, working long hours with hardly any breaks, with early starts and late finishes. To our main pizza slinger, Tom Peasgood, a kingpin to the success of Bare Bones Pizza. He is a complete magician with our oven and makes us feel so fortunate to have him in the team.

Thank you again, and here’s to a great 2016!

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Milestones 2014

Posted: 04/01/2015

April

After probably years of thinking about going into business by himself, it took Mike a holiday to France for the idea of Bare Bones Pizza to come to fruition. After coming home and telling the rest of the family, it was settled – we were going to jump in feet first.

May

Research began straight away. Looking at local food markets and the street food scene in the UK. Books purchased, websites perused. We also had our first meeting with Jay from Dingley Dell ovens. The guru of wood fired pizzas we spent a morning with him bombarding him with questions about our business. Next we had to get our vehicle. We knew that we wanted a van, but we were on the lookout for the right deal. After an off road experience that Mike had for his birthday, we drove down to Swindon where we bought a Citroen Relay. Next we had to find the right coach fitters. We checked out three places, settling on the second place we visited – Tudor Trailers.

June

The van at this point was in Weston Super-mare at Tudor Trailer’s. We had one last visit to Jays workshop to see our finished oven before it was sent down and fitted into our van. Excitement levels we’re at their peak in June!

July

Continued visits down to Weston to see the progress on our van and our first booking! Another huge mile-stone for us.

August

The month Bare Bones Pizza hit the streets. We invited 200 of our nearest and dearest to our launch party on the 10th August and raised over £700 for the Cancer ward at Russell’s Hall hospital. We plan to make this a yearly fundraiser. Five days later we had our first gig at Eat Street in Leamington Spa, where you can find us most Fridays.

Our highlights in 2014

• 78 events/gigs in 2014
• Accepted into Scoff (Midland St Food Collective)
• Shortlisted by shortlist.com in their search for the best Pizza in the UK
• Awarded 5 stars for Hygiene and food safety standards
• Accepted our first wedding booking for 2015
• Received another excellent review from ichoose Birmingham
• Traded at both Digbeth Dining Club and Brumyumyum, Kingsheath. Birmingham’s top Street Food venues

This year has been great for us with many highs and minimal lows. We have learnt a lot, and had a blast while doing it. Plans are already coming together for 2015 and we can’t wait to see you all while our business grows and we continue to deliver delicious wood fired pizzas to you.

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Where it all began with our van

Posted: 19/08/2014

When it comes to street food the three most important things are the pitch, the product and what you trade out of…

To get things kicked off on the blog I want to talk about our van. If you’re reading this I hope that it means you’re about to click on where to find us, visit us and see it in action!

The initial idea

So the journey begins with an initial idea after reading about the explosion of street food in London, and its subsequent spread to other cities across the UK. Luckily for us, Birmingham has a great street food community with great events happening all the time. We even have Digbeth Dining Club, which was voted the best street food event at the British Street Food Awards last year! After checking out the local scene the next step was to get down to London to see what traders down there were doing. Stuffing ourselves until we barely fit onto the Underground, we saw as many traders as we could fit in. We have loved eating in places such as Pizza Pilgrims in Soho and Pizza East in Shoreditch, as well as the food markets on Leather Lane.

What should we trade out of?

One of the things we’ve noticed from going to see these events are that the options for a vessel to trade from go from a gazebo, to a trailer, all the way up to a van. So the question we had to ask ourselves was what was going to work best for us? We already knew we wanted to do pizzas so we had to think about the logistics of moving a 500kg oven around with us. This put the gazebo idea out the window straight away. A trailer, although more secure, would also present a few issues. First of all to maneuver the thing onto a pitch could easily go wrong, let alone the added time it would take to do a 500 point turn to get the thing into place. We knew it had to be a van. We could rock up to an event, jump into the back and start working on our prep and getting the oven to temperature straight away. But this still didn’t make it any easier for us! If you go to any street food event you are going to see a real mix of vintage vans which have been converted. We have seen everything from (the ever popular amongst street food traders) Citroen H Van to converted ambulances and fire engines. Because we had seen so many H Vans around our initial plan was to source one of these, restore it and then get it converted into a working pizza kitchen. This lead us to hours on eBay, H-Van world and lots of different forums trying to find a bargain and something that wouldn’t need too much work done on it so we could get up and running sooner. However, anyone reading this who has ever looked at buying a H Van will know that finding one of these vans that isn’t just a shell is going to mean selling your house and living in a tent to afford it.

credit: H Van World

credit: H Van World

We’ve got a van, but now we need a kitchen!

We decided at this point to go and see some coach fitters to ask for some advice on what works best from those who know best, and to look at what’s needed for a top notch conversion. This lead us to three trips to different fitters; Towability in Northampton, 4sure Trailers (also in Northampton) and Tudor Trailers in Western-Super-Mare. We saw some stunning vans and some great work from all three companies, but after just one meeting we just knew we wanted to work with Tudor trailers. They are a family-run business, originally founded by a Father and now ran by his four Sons – a company ethos which perfectly matches our own. Ashley Tudor talked us through all the pro’s and con’s of going for a H Van over a more modern van and even though we loved the look of the H Van, the cons quickly far outweighed the pros. First of all old H Vans aren’t that powerful and only have three gears. Because of the size and weight of our oven, as well as everything we wanted to put in it, it would make it very unpractical to drive. This is – of course – if the engine starts. Citroen stopped producing H Vans in 1981. So even if we got a van that was the very last to come off the production line we would be looking at an engine that’s over thirty year old. We had heard too many horror stories through our research of people going out to a booking and the engine giving up, making them very late or not able to attend at all. We couldn’t have that for our business. What if we had a booking at a wedding? We felt like we couldn’t run the risk of letting people down like that so we decided we definitely needed a modern van.

citron-vanAfter even more research into what van we wanted we finally decided on a long wheel based, high-roof Citroen Relay. This would give us plenty of space to move around in, and most importantly, get us where we needed to go without any issues! After trawling the Internet we found the perfect van in Swindon – one with only 4500 miles on the clock for about half the price of a Citroen H Van.

To help us in the design and fitting of the van we had a lot of help from pizza oven guru, Jay Emery. Jay owns Dingley Dell Ovens, which produces beautifully handmade ovens in Kidderminster. If you want to get into the street food world and pizza is your thing, you need a Dingley Dell oven. Jay has been in this industry for 15 years now and is an absolute fountain of knowledge on everything you could ever need to know when you are setting up your own street food business. Between Jay at Dingley Dell and Ashley at Tudor Trailers we were almost there. After a couple more visits to go over the design and fine-tune it to our own specifications and style, we had it nailed and were good to go. The guys at Tudor Trailers are doing a roaring trade, which isn’t surprising considering the high standard of their work, so we had to wait six weeks before any work could start on the van. However they are so good at what they do, that what they said would take 14 days only took 10. If you were lucky enough to try our pizzas at our recent launch event I’m sure you’ll agree with us in saying that the van is looking splendid – even if we do say so ourselves!

BBP-Van-Transformation

 

 

 

In the next blog post I will talk through the process of building our brand and the next step in the making of the Bare Bones Pizza van – getting our van vinyl wrapped. Until then, check out the find us section and come try one our pizzas.


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