This weekend, the mobile pizza joint is parked at the Wonderland Trees Christmas tree lot at Alameda Point. Puertas said he secured his Alameda County health permit only 10 days ago.
On Saturday afternoon, just before opening, owner Lorenzo Puertas told Action Alameda News that he looked “all over California” for a food truck configured to bake pizzas, before locating an almost-new trailer in Clovis with a walk-in freezer and four pizza ovens.
This weekend marks Croll’s Pizza’s first appearance in Alameda since the restaurant closed.
Puertas said that he wants to find a permanent location to park the mobile parlor, but for now, “it’s important to keep the staff working,” and, setting up in Oakland on some days and at different events in Alameda gives him time to master the new propane-powered pizza ovens.
The new kitchen is much smaller than his older one. Puertas explained that he moved his 800 pound dough mixer and other equipment to the kitchen at Alameda Point Collaborative, under a shared use agreement.
Only three people can work comfortably in the trailer, one handling cash and working the telephone, one rolling out the dough for pizzas, and one operating the ovens. Less space also means less space for toppings, which translates into just four different fixed pizza configurations. (Although, Puertas said that if he had the time and ingredients, he might be able to occasionally customize.)
Cramped quarters will limit volume—at the restaurant, Puertas said they might do 140 pizzas in a night— but overhead is much lower. Gone is the beverage license that permitted Croll’s to sell higher-margin beer, but Puertas said they didn’t sell all that much beer anyway.
Some restaurant regulars have already shown up. Part of the challenge with the food-truck pizza parlor model will be re-establishing neighborhood roots and becoming part of hyper-local routines, “like the divorced dad who walked over every time he had the kids,” Puertas said.
Puertas seems happy to be selling pizza again, and Croll’s Pizza fans are happy too, one of them responding to a Facebook announcement about the Alameda Point appearance with, “I believe in Santa Claus again.”
— Action Alameda News (@ActionAlameda) December 13, 2015