When you hear Hella Pie Pizza Co. founder and owner, Marcus Medina, share the story of his business, there are two words that come up almost as many times as pizza: dreams and community.
Like most small businesses, this mobile catering company is built on dreams. And that dream for Medina and his wife, Amy, is to bring the community of Tracy, California – about 65 miles east of San Francisco – together around a shared love of pizza.
Operating under the motto “Peace. Love. Pizza.,” he has begun to live his dream.
“As far as pizza in Tracy, we don’t have that ‘mom and pop’ pizzeria in our area, so we wanted to give our community something they could be proud of and call their own,” said Medina, who was born in Tracy and after moving around a bit as a child, has lived in Tracy since he was 12-years-old.
Having always loved cooking for people, Medina and his wife sold their house a couple of years ago and dreamed of opening a restaurant. However, with a young daughter and a lack of experience in the restaurant industry, they decided to open a mobile catering company instead.
To start his business, it was critical to Medina, who works in construction when not making pizzas, to choose wisely when it came to his wood-fired oven. He had explored pizza making forums for suggestions and The Bread Stone Ovens Company kept popping up. Additionally, with a recommendation from a fellow mobile pizza caterer who Medina connected with over Instagram, the Medina’s purchased a wood-fired oven and trailer from Bread Stone Ovens and officially launched their business – and dream – in September 2017.
(Medina even let the community suggest names for his new pizza oven and trailer. He and Amy eventually settled on “Gemma” after a television show character.)
What makes Medina’s wood-fired oven unique is that it was customized by Bread Stone Ovens. They selected a 950 B wood-fired brick oven mounted on a turntable feature that allows the oven to face any direction. According to Medina, this is an important feature in creating the culture of community he dreams of with Hella Pie.
“There is just a natural connection that comes with watching pizza being cooked,” he said. “It draws people in, and with this oven, you can see it from anywhere. I’ve never seen a feature like that.”
So far, it is working out for Medina. Hella Pie hosted its first event in March and they sold out in one hour. Grateful for the friends and family who are volunteering their time to help him achieve his dream, Medina is committed to educating the community about Hella Pie’s style of pizza and the uniqueness of wood-fired cooking.
And while long-term Medina and Amy still hope to open their restaurant, for now, Medina is excited to bring the Hella Pie culture to his community any way he can.
“Cooking for people is my way – and now Hella Pie’s way – to love on people and forget about everything else. No politics. No religion. No separation. Just Peace. Love. Pizza.”
Since that beginning, the importance of community can be seen in the name they chose for the company.
“ ‘Hella’ is a word that is said all the time in northern California,” Medina said. “We wanted something that was natural and local to our area.”
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