Customer of the Month: Mike Wagner
Mobile food trucks have been around for decades, and you can often see them at places such as downtown parks, fairs, conventions, and music festivals.
While food trucks have steadily grown in popularity and are trending as new and innovative, the business model really is not new at all.
We contribute the evolution of this industry to its continued success as new and accomplished entrepreneurs everywhere are forward-looking and seeking more conventional ways to make a name for themselves in the food industry.
Food trucks are more attainable and are proven business models that are conducive and offer long-term resilience, which is essential with the revolution of our economy.
The simple business model does not require as much capital as a restaurant venue can cost, they operate more efficiently, and even more exciting is they allow for more creativity.
Chefs can offer unique food options that are served from all around the world attracting customers everywhere to their mobile establishments.
The best aspect is, of course, that it is a restaurant on wheels and can go to where the customers are- quite genius actually!
As the popularity of mobile markets continues to expand, it is no wonder why Authentic Pizza Ovens have become some of the most popular pizza ovens not only in the United States but around the world.
Well known for their premium quality, beautiful craftsmanship, and options of versatility to accommodate any space. Our ovens encompass the simplicity of traditional wood-fired cooking that Chefs everywhere can appreciate.
As the new breed of food entrepreneurs aspire to create new and innovative culinary dishes that challenge traditional concepts, customers can savor the nutritional value of the ingredients and delicious flavors that distinguish them from other venues in the food industry.
Meet our Customer of the Month, Mike Wagner, of Wagner’s Pizza Bus in Fairbanks, Alaska. Wagner's Pizza Bus
Follow them on IG: @wagnerspizzabus
Read more from our interview with Mike and learn about how he and his wife, Diana, use their Maximus Prime Portable Oven to serve up their specialty wood-fired regional pizzas to customers from all over the country in their one-of-a-kind bus setup.
Where are you from and a little background information about you?
My name is Mike Wagner, and I am originally from Pennsylvania. My wife, Diana, myself, and our children enjoyed dog mushing with a team of Siberian dogs and Malamutes, and the hours of commuting to get to a good location is what ultimately led us on our journey of chasing snow across the country to Fairbanks, Alaska back in 2007.
We had never been to Alaska before and everyone we knew thought we were crazy. Once we got settled and purchased our land a few years later, we decided to lease a building and open a small sit-down shop that did not work out like we hoped as the owners of the building decided on different plans.
Despite our setback, I found a bus for sale on a fishing trip which we thought would be a unique concept, so we took the leap of faith and started a new adventure.
We transformed the bus into Wagner’s Pizza Bus, Alaska’s smallest pizzeria (haha), and parked it on a private lot in Two Rivers which is about 30 miles from Fairbanks.
When we first started, we were fresh to the culinary world of pizza, truly, we had no academic food background or prior experience. The only knowledge we had was from eating pizza back home and what we researched online. We just kept a creative mindset and focused on techniques and ideas that would put us on the map.
Being in a remote location makes it a bit more challenging, however, people from all over the country visit our area for the pioneer experience of our wilderness, the snowy trails and good fishing, to the infamous beautiful northern lights show.
So, one thing we started doing a few years ago is creating a variety of pizza options from regions all over that people could relate to whether it is taking a bite out of their childhood favorites or trying something new.
There are not many other restaurants and pizzerias that offer as many pizza options, and it has become a staple in our business. We are now best known for creating over 30 regional styles of the tastiest wood-fired pizza you can eat ranging between Detroit, New York, St. Louis, Brier Hill, and so much more!
While it is nearly impossible to get exact ingredients specific to certain recipes here in Alaska, we use substitutions that give the same result, and we offer unique toppings like reindeer sausage and Pink Salmon.
We open in the evenings and are available to serve our customers year-round no matter if it is dark and our record of 48 degrees below 0, and we try to make their trip out of town worth the experience.
We are proud to soon be celebrating our 10-year business anniversary this coming June.
Which oven did you choose and why did you choose an Authentic Pizza Oven?
We chose the Maximus Prime Portable Oven for many reasons; however, its versatility and lighter weight is what caught our attention to start with.
Being a business owner in Alaska can be challenging for any business, especially in the food industry, so it was important to us that we could conveniently transport the oven as needed.
We thrive with creativity so we are always finding ways to engage with our community and the tourists that come seeking adventure. For example, in the summer we offer a mini-golf course so our customers can enjoy some fun in the sun.
We also have a food trailer where we serve up a variety of food for local events like our county fair. Some other features that we loved about the Maximus Portable Ovens were their modern appeal, the aerodynamic design and layout of the oven, and the larger cooking space.
It was important to us that we had an oven that could efficiently produce large quantities of pizzas quickly considering the colder temperatures and the distance our customers must travel since we are primarily in a remote location.
We did a lot of research and Authentic Pizza Ovens just made sense, especially for our New Haven-style and Margherita pizzas which taste better when cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven.
Their consistent positive customer reviews also stood out to us, and their level of customer service certainly exceeded our expectations.
Amber answered all our questions and was very helpful throughout the entire process even during the shipping all the way from Houston, TX to Alaska.
We have been very pleased with our oven and credit it as part of our success today as we weathered the pandemic. The authentic experience and elements of traditional wood-fired cooking are truly something we can all appreciate.
Did you build your setup or have someone else do it?
We had purchased a bus and completely revamped it for our pizza business, which is one of the reasons we chose to purchase the Maximus Prime oven.
The size of the oven fit perfectly with the layout of our bus which was important considering the limited space we had to work with. We set it up in a way that we could work from inside during the winter when the temperatures are 30 and 40 degrees below zero.
What is your favorite thing to cook in your oven, and have you tried any recipes besides pizza?
Of course, we got our oven mainly for cooking pizza. We pride ourselves on our list of over 30 regional pizza options made with a cold rise dough that is hand-stretched and made to order every single time.
We also offer over 20 specialty pizza options like our Spinach & Tomato Pesto, White Garlic & Herb, Pickle Pizza, and Chicken Bacon Ranch, to name a few.
Aside from pizza, we offer a variety of other food options that we cook in our oven like Philly Cheesesteaks and wings. We have also cooked Thanksgiving dinner in our oven.
There really is not any kind of food that you can’t cook in your wood-fired pizza oven and the savory wood-fired taste is indescribable.
Recipes by Wagner Pizza Bus
You can make your own pizza dough or use any store-premade pizza dough. Margherita Pizza is a thin-crust Naples-style pizza, so be sure to roll your dough out thin to achieve the ultimate thin and crispy results.
Tomato-based pizza sauce
Fresh Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Heat your wood-fired pizza oven to 260 degrees Celsius/ 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Create your pizza dough and stretch it out thin to your desired size.
3. Spread your pizza sauce over your dough and place the pizza in the oven and par-bake until the crust is a nice golden brown color.
4. Remove your pizza and place your fresh mozzarella on top and sprinkle it with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, then place it back in your oven until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.
5. Top with fresh basil then slice it and serve.
Apizza pronounced 'ah-beetz' is a tasty New Haven-style pizza that originated in New Haven, Connecticut. It is infamous for its thin and crispy wood-fired charred crust and fresh ingredients.
You can make your own pizza dough or use any store-premade pizza dough.
Tomato Sauce (San Marzano tomatoes are the best for this recipe)
Parmigiano-Reggiano to garnish
Oregano to garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to garnish
No "mootz" unless you desire
1. Heat your wood-fired pizza oven to 340 degrees Celsius/ 650 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Create your pizza dough and stretch it out to your desired size.
3. Spread your pizza sauce over your dough and place the pizza in the oven and cook until it has blackened bubbles throughout the crust and a leopard char on the bottom of the crust.
4. Lightly garnish with oregano, parmigiano-reggiano, olive oil, and salt as desired.
5. Cut in oddly shaped pieces and serve.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BEING FEATURED AS CUSTOMER OF THE MONTH - please email Amber@authenticpizzaovens.com
- Authentic Pizza Ovens