APPALACHIA, VA – June 3, 2022 – There are food trucks and then there are food trucks with a twist such as Engine 343 Wood Fired Brick Oven Pizza. Jennifer and Travis Anderson own and operate the Wise County food truck business which features a fire truck engine, outfitted with a wood-fired pizza oven trailer.
The Andersons’ new business, Engine 343 Wood Fired Brick Oven Pizza was recently approved for a $10,000 VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund grant.
The truck sets up at various events, predominantly in the Town of Appalachia. True Italian ingredients comprise the pizzas made from the oven, with pizza names a tip of the hat to firemen. Anderson, who is a career firefighter, noted the 343 in the business name represents the number of firefighters lost on September 11.
“VCEDA was pleased to assist Engine 343 Wood Fired Brick Oven Pizza with its unique set-up for a food truck business,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The business projects three full-time and three part-time jobs within five years.
Since opening the truck for business, Travis Anderson noted the pizzas they make have routinely been selling out. The trailer itself now has signage and LED lighting which helps to make it more visible in the night hours.
“The demand for our pizza has been very high,” Jennifer Anderson said. “It has kept us extremely busy.”
According to the Andersons, it all starts with the dough.
“We use the best flour and sea salt from overseas, plus we even use specific water to make our true Neapolitan style pizzas,” they noted, adding, “we make our dough fresh. Once out of the mixer the dough has a sitting period to begin the magical process of rising, then off to the fridge to slow the yeast down, so the starches can take over and work their magic. How long we ferment — well that is our little secret.”
Added to the menu recently were cheese sticks and German pretzels with beer cheese and honey mustard. Next up are calzones. Pizzas are available in the 10-inch and 14-inch size. Everything is made from scratch.
Future plans call for the use of the truck and trailer as rented options for private parties – both for children and adults.
“It’s been an adventure and we’ve already learned so much,” Jennifer Anderson said.
“Some people have been asking if we might do a brick and mortar location and that is something we’ve been thinking about for the future,” Travis Anderson said. “If we found the right building and location at the right price, we might consider it.”
The seed capital grant, the Andersons noted, was instrumental in helping them to get started.
“We owe a big thanks to VCEDA, to the Wise County Industrial Development Authority and to everyone who has believed in our project,” Travis Anderson said.
The Andersons worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in developing their application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Wise County Industrial Development Authority.
“Travis and Jennifer have found their passion in providing their local community with a unique and fun food truck that appeals to all ages,” said Becki O’Quinn-Purdie, SBDC director at MECC. “Mountain Empire’s SBDC appreciates working with Engine 343 Wood Fired Brick Oven Pizza and seeing their dream develop to a reality.”
Engine 343 Wood Fired Brick Oven Pizza may be found on Facebook and may be reached by calling 321-432-5537.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.
About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.