The mobile food scene just got a little crazy with the Clay House’s wood-fired pizza oven on the go
Pizzas bake in about three minutes in the wood-fired Pizza Kiln. The mobile brick and concrete oven debuted in May and is now appearing at public and private events.
Pretty much from day one, the most popular item on the menu at the Clay House in Weston has been their homemade pizza. So owners Gretchen and Lee Kluz had the thought: What if we took pizza on the road?
The answer is they usually sell out.
That’s the story of Pizza Kiln, a mobile, wood-fired pizza oven that started in May and has been popping up at events such as Open Streets, Concert on the Square along with appearances at places such as Bull Falls Brewery and The Sawmill in Merrill.
Gretchen Kluz, who runs Clay House, designed the art on the 6,800-pound pizza kiln, which is transported on a trailer.
Lee Kluz spent about four months building the mobile, brick and concrete oven—a 6,800-poundbaking machine that cooks pizzas in all of three minutes. Despite warnings from others who had tried it but had their ovens fall apart, Pizza Kiln’s oven is still going strong after several months of summer use.
How successful has it been? At a recent Sunday 400 Block event, they sold 100 pizzas in less than 90 minutes. That kind of volume requires both careful calculation—Gretchen says they do the math to know exactly the maximum number of pizzas they can bake in the amount of time of the event—and a team of people working like an assembly line to keep the pizzas coming when the demand is high. At many of the events everyone just mans their station and cranks out pizzas from start to finish. They start prepping at 5 am and are washing dishes at 10 or 11 pm, Gretchen Kluz says.
It helped that Gretchen Kluz has run the Clay House for five years, which gave the couple both business acumen and some trial and error on what works pizza wise. The biggest guess is what pizzas will be popular. They serve everything from basics such as pepperoni or sausage pizzas to meat lovers, chicken, bacon, ranch, Hawaiian and margherita (tomato, cheese, basil), and it’s anyone’s guess which will be the most popular at any given event. “One night it could be all meat lover and sausage, the next event it’s all Hawaiian and margherita,” Gretchen Kluz says.
Their recipes come from Ray Connor, who was the head pastor at Mount Olive for 30 years. Connor’s second love is serving large groups of people, Gretchen Kluz says, and Connor and his wife are also partners in the business.
Besides events, the Pizza Kiln has served at graduation parties and a 200-300-person wedding, and is already booking events out into next year.
Wood-fired pizza isn’t itself new to the area. Stoney Acres Farm in Athens now operates three ovens for its Pizza on the Farm nights on Fridays and limited Saturdays. Red Eye Brewing Co. has served wood-fired pizzas since its inception nearly 10 years ago.
The difference, of course, is that Pizza Kiln can bring the pizza oven to you, and they can serve up a lot of food quickly. “We’ve had so much positive feedback,” Gretchen says. “It’s fun to be apart of the community in a bigger way than with the studio.”
Find more information see clayhouseonline.com.