Since 2015, Stephen Kearney has been on a mission to bring New Brunswickers fresh, Italian-style pizza and mouth-watering donairs that would give Halifax a run for its money.
His food truck, Parking Lot Pizza, is back on the road around Greater Saint John for another summer. We caught up with him to find out how he got started and how his truck with a basic name creates foods with lots flavour.
How did the truck get started?
I was actually selling donairs down at Rhoda’s Market on the weekends and I was going to start a brick and mortar shop. I didn’t really have an interest in pizza, to be honest. I wasn’t really making it at the time. But it started out with me wanting to do donairs so I tried to get a place uptown and the rent was just too much. It was just too expensive to do it. I actually went to Enterprise Saint John [and they helped me out]. I did their Vennture Garage program that helped quite a bit and that’s where I got the idea for the food truck.
What was it about this sort of business that made you want to be involved?
It was a trend, right? So I thought it would probably be successful and more so than a brick and mortar location because you can move it. If you’re not doing [well] in a certain area, you can move it to another area. Also, it’s a kitchen on wheels so you have catering or different venues. You’re not stuck to the one venue.
How would you describe what you serve? Where did the inspiration come from?
I’ve been making donairs since 1993. I’ve always made donair meat and I just tried to make it better and better so that where that came from. I always loved donairs and I like the ones where they cut the meat off the spit, the original Halifax donair. There’s nothing like that in Saint John anymore, so I wanted to do that.
For the pizza, I wanted to do something that didn’t have any chemicals or preservatives in it. Most of the pizza chains all have preservatives in their dough. I don’t use any of that stuff. My dough is so simple a three-year-old can make it. It has three ingredients and that’s it. It’s totally Italian pizza dough. I wanted everything to be like an Italian pizza from Italy would be. I try to use local ingredients too, everything is from Saint John. I actually go out of my way to use local stuff.
We gotta ask, how did you pick the name?[My wife] Jen came up with the name. I’m not good at names, to be honest. I like the name. A lot of people commented on it and said it was a good name because that’s what it is. It’s parking lot pizza. You’re in a parking lot and you’re eating pizza, so the name tells you what it is, right?
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.