Scott Baitinger and Steve Mai sell pizza by the slice out of a truck Downtown at bar time. How many of you are kicking yourselves for not thinking of this idea first?
It's called Streetza, and it's a concept as simple as it is brilliant. Via the company's active Twitter and Facebook accounts, the owners keep fans well-informed and well-fed by posting updates as to their exact location and slice specials of the day.
Streetza's default locale is the intersection of Water Street and Juneau Avenue, but Baitinger says he's willing to park wherever the people want him. In late May, Streetza's Twitter following requested North Avenue, and they obliged.
Baitinger hopes to add more trucks with regular stopping points on Old World 3rd Street, Milwaukee Street and Walker's Point in the future, but for now, he and Mai are making a go of it with a single vehicle that he describes as somewhere between the size of a FedEx truck and an ice cream truck.
It's just big enough for two people and a slew of pizza ovens, which is perfect since all their prep work is done from a 4,000-sq. ft. commercial kitchen in West Allis. Baitinger, a former chef and food critic, and Mai, who used to manage Riverfront Pizzeria Bar and Grill and Ricardo's Pizza, have more than 15 signature pizza varieties but are constantly coming up with new, creative daily specials, many of which have been suggested via text or tweet from customers. They sell the slices for $5-$6.
"I think people's initial perception is that we're making Jack's pizza in a truck but once they have it, they realize it's really good food," says Baitinger.
He calls his dough "a happy medium between thin New York style and thick Chicago style," and uses local and organic produce and meats to top cleverly-named pizzas, such "meatballs the movie, wait we mean the slice," "Wisconsin Stair Fair chili," "farmer's market" and, perhaps the most sought after, "the brew crew sausage race," which piles all the Klement's racing sausages (yes, even hot dog) onto a blend on five chesses. And vegans, they're working on a soy-cheese variety sure to surface this summer.
Streetza has sold more than 700 slices in just more than two weeks to the post-party hungry masses, a number made more impressive by the fact they only hit the streets from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays.
As the summer progresses, you'll start to see Streetza out on Thursday nights, as well as at various street fairs and festivals and gatherings like Bay View's Chill on the Hill. And Downtown workers can soon consider Streetza a lunch option, as the truck plans to park near Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue over the noon hour.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”