EXIRA — Eric Konecne of Exira had a dream.
“I’ve always had a dream of having a food truck,” he said, and today he’s got a good start making that dream real.
Eric has lived in Exira for about 17 years, he’s been with the Exira Fire Department for 15 years, and works two jobs — full time with AMVC raising hogs and part time for Caseys, making pizza.
So it’s not really a surprise he has a food truck that serves pizza.
“I work at Caseys and people started liking my pizza, people were telling me how much they enjoyed it,” he said.
He’s also Zipp’s Pizzaria in Adair, at the Thirsty Mermaid in Elk Horn and at a Pizza Hut.
He’s done a lot of research, looking up recipes for dough and sauce, and experimented with different varieties of pizza toppings.
He got a Facebook page, picked out a name for his business and got started.
Pizzas baked in wood fired ovens are popular, but he said there weren’t a lot of places that made them around the area.
He got an RV, called someone from the Health Department to find out what he needed to do, then stripped down the RV and put in the right equipment.
He and his father started working on building an oven, but he ended up buying one.
It’s small, cooks with wood, and can cook a large pizza in about two minutes.
Two minutes? Yes, that’s right — while it takes a while to get started, about a half hour — Eric first fires up a chimney of charcoal, then adds wood in and checks the temperature as it goes up. Stones on the bottom of the oven heat up and help cook the pizza. The oven can get up to 900 degrees, in that 800-900 degree range, pizza cooks fast, which is important if you have a food truck and a line of customers.
The oven is an “Ooni” and while it only cooks the one pizza at a time, Eric said it was the biggest he could get to begin with, but if the pizza business takes off, he would consider looking for a bigger one.
He started out with the food truck — and a big sign that says “Hungry Spartan Pizza,” at Operation T-Bone in Audubon, and served pizza twice in Exira, once in the city park and last weekend at Legion Park.
He said he’s learned if he posts where he is going to be on Facebook, usually planning to start about 5 p.m., people would start showing up — early — so now he also takes orders by phone as well, and tries to get started a little early.
He does a different special every time he goes out. Last weekend he was making a pulled pork pizza with barbecue sauce that could be topped with cole slaw, Carolina style, he called it.
He will also do regular toppings — his first order on Saturday was for a large pepperoni pizza.
He makes small, eight inch pizzas and large, approximately 14 inch pizzas.
A small pizza is $8, for both single toppings or specialties; large single toppings are $10, and $13 for specialties.
The heat of the oven makes the edge of the crust bubble up, and gives them an authentic, hand crafted look.
He’s gotten help from Exira Fire Chief Tim Wahlert when he’s making pizza, but his family also helps.
On Saturday, his wife Jennifer and three kids, Paige, 11, Chloe, 8 and Ryker, 4, were on hand at the park. Paige likes to help out by taking down orders and collecting the money.
He said the first two times he took out the truck orders came in fast, and it wasn’t unusual to have 15 orders waiting to be made.
One customer commented he was happy to see Eric start up the business, that it was just good to see someone in Exira try something new.
And while some of his pizza-loving fans might like to see him open a restaurant, he said he didn’t think he’d want to.
“I’m fulfilling my dream. I don’t think I’d ever leave the food truck, this works for what I need right now.”