Food trucks are fairly commonplace when it comes to festivals, parties or sporting events, but outside of this, they’re not something you’d associate with a day-to-day operation.
For Jay Vidler and the team at Wagga’s Woodfire Wagon, travelling to new locations weekly and selling delicious pizza out of their truck is just common practice.
“We started out in Wagga in 2014. We saw there was a clear gap in the market when it came to mobile food vans,” Jay said.
“When thinking about what would be the best food to see, we landed on pizza.
“Pizza is a crowd pleaser. We live in a fairly Mediterranean climate, so we are able to use a lot of different local ingredients and support local farmers.”
The mobile food truck sets up shop at several locations multiple times throughout the week and promotes the locations across social media and a blog.
One of Wagga’s Woodfire Wagon’s first outings was at a local farmers’ market in 2014. Surprised by the reception and the demand for gourmet pizza, Jay and the team started to promote their catering side of the business. What followed were regular appearances at weddings, receptions and birthday parties.
“Once we started travelling to different places and people started to recognise us, the word-of-mouth really started to pick up,” Jay said.
“We were fairly well booked each week. We started introducing takeaway options and online orders for people to order in advance.
“We established quite a community in that period. We grew our social media following and really got the brand out there.”
Like most businesses, however, 2020 was a difficult and taxing time for Wagga’s Woodfire Wagon. With no established location, and a reputation for making pizzas in front of the customers, the social aspect of their well-known wagon was gone.
“It was a difficult time. We really enjoy travelling around the Riverina and getting to know people from all reaches. Unfortunately, those six to 12 months made that near impossible.
“Being able to travel and see people’s gratitude for what you were doing was such a special feeling. We were able to chat with the customers. It was like having friends around chatting over a barbecue.
“If we didn’t set up the online ordering when we did, we could have been in a bit of strife.”
Jay and his team pride themselves on their ability to constantly change and rework their menu every couple of weeks. Jay says because of where Wagga Wagga is situated, the wagon has access to a range of new and differing ingredients depending on the time of year.
“Changing pizza toppings and introducing new options keeps people interested. A lot of people are curious about what is new and fresh, so we base our pizzas on not only what is readily available but on what we believe customers will enjoy,” he said.
“We talk to people all the time about our process. They ask about woodfire ovens, what’s the best way to cook them and so on. We share tips and give advice and it seems people are quite thankful for that.”
While it may be no shock that their meat lovers’ pizza is the most popular option on the menu, Jay believes there is a great range to choose from and no two pizzas are the same.
“Personally, I’m a fan of our wagon special. It contains chicken, sundried tomato, baby spinach and fetta. It really has that perfect balance,” he said.
Wagga’s Woodfire Wagon has more than 3000 followers on their Facebook page and is available for bookings and catering outside of its regular travels.
“Over the next little period, we will be spending most of our time at Henwood Park in Kooringal,” Jay said.
“In future, we would like to continue travelling around the Riverina and setting up shop at different locations, but in the meantime, be sure to look us up at woodfirewagon.com.au and follow our blog.”