A local article today in CT. It appears this guy is really expanding.http://www.courant.com/business/hc-firetruck-pizza.artnov20,0,5011026.story
By TERESA M. PELHAM
Special to The Courant
November 20, 2009
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SOUTHINGTON — - A Shelton man arrived home from work one evening this summer to see a firetruck with lights flashing and sirens blaring in his driveway, along with dozens of people standing in front of his house.
After a few frantic moments, he realized that his house was not on fire: His wife had decided to throw him a surprise birthday party, with Verona on Wheels as both the caterer and the entertainment.
In October 2008, with business a little slow because of the sluggish economy, Sal Ajro, owner of Verona Pizzeria in Southington, was trying to come up with an idea to bring in revenue, especially during the summer when his regular customers go out of town. As he talked with a friend over a glass of wine outside his pizza shop on the Meriden- Waterbury Turnpike, a firetruck drove by on its way to a call.
"I told my friend, 'I got it!'" said Ajro, a native of Albania. "My landlord shopped around the next day, found one on eBay and within two days I had a firetruck. When I know something is going to work I don't waste time."
Ajro spent the next eight months gutting the inside of the 1970 firetruck, which had been in service in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and then installed a refrigeration system and wood-fired brick oven. He catered his first "Verona on Wheels" party in June at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford — an employee picnic for 150 people. Since then, he's made thin-crust pizzas — which take just 2½ minutes to cook in the truck's 700-degree oven — for two to three parties a week all summer and fall. About a dozen parties are already booked for 2010.
Prices start at $1,250 for a party of 50 guests, and include as much salad, garlic knots, pizza and Italian ice people can eat. One party guest claimed to have eaten 112 slices at a graduation party this summer. Kids and adults are encouraged to sit inside the truck and play with the lights and sirens.
At an auction in June, Ajro bought a second firetruck that had been used on the campus of Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown. He retrofitted the second truck in three months. Each truck cost about $60,000 to purchase and renovate. He has a deposit on a third truck — this time from Bristol — which should be up and running by springtime.
Because the colder weather doesn't lend itself to outdoor pizza parties, Ajro is hoping to take the trucks to Florida for the winter.
Ajro grew up on a farm in Albania, moved to Italy at 17, and came to the United States at 19. He worked in factories, learned to be a toolmaker, went to night school for refrigeration repair and for 25 years worked as a self-employed refrigeration repairman. In 2001 he transformed a jewelry store into Verona's Pizzeria — learning how to build a brick oven along the way.
"In this country — in the United States — you can make it to the top," he said. "Nobody can stop you."
Copyright © 2009, The Hartford Courant