#FoodTruckFriday: Evan Eriksen & Pie95 Pizza
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that everyone loves pizza. EVERYONE. Nick Jonas says “I love pizza; you can’t really go wrong with pizza.” Beyonce? She said “I always treat myself to one meal on Sundays when I can have whatever I want. Usually it’s pizza, which is my favorite indulgence.” How about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? He says “I would never win an award for not loving pizza.” I rest my case - pizza is loved by all.
Thanks to Evan Eriksen and Pie95 Pizza, Jacksonville has an incredible wood fire pizza option. The best part? It’s a food truck and travels all over town delivering pizza with only the freshest ingredients! We got to chat with Evan about all the important things - why he started Pie95, his favorite menu item and, the age old question, does pineapple go on pizza. Read on to see what goes into making Pie95 a Jacksonville staple!
Are you a Jacksonville native? If not, what brought you to the area?
I’m actually one of this New York Floridians, but I spent most of my youth down in Flagler Beach. After moving home from Australia I got a Chef de Cuisine positive at Matthews. That small stint of time got me interested in JAX and noticing the growing food truck scene.
What was your "aha moment" that led you to open your own food truck?
With all the bells & whistles, employees & overhead, I realized that starting small and dreaming big was the first step. Also, it was the most financially welcoming.
Because pizza is love lol (amen.)
I had a moment while sitting in Manley Wharf, having a pizza and beer. I was working at Tetsuyas at the time. I realized that it’s the little things in life with food that made me happy. Not these multiple course menus.
Can you tell us a bit about the name Pie95?
It’s a funny story, tbh! So, I kept coming up with all sorts of crazy names and they all were horrible. My uncle was always a bit of a funny guy. He was getting tired of hearing all these names and came up with Pie95 on the fly. He asked me “you’re serving whole pies of I-95 right? Just call it Pie95!” I fell in love with it at that moment. Everyone I knew said no way, but I couldn’t shake the name.
Do you have a favorite menu item? Or something unique to your Brand?
Of course as a business owner, I should up sell, but obviously my favorite pizza is the Margherita. It’s the classic Neapolitan pizza that, if eating a wood fired pie, should be tried first. Followed by the simple Bianca topped with Arugula. As you can see I prefer simplicity. I also love enjoying our specialty pies that are never on the menu so make sure you ask when you come to the window.
Pineapple on pizza - delicious or an abomination? (We had to ask ... )
You really had to go there didn’t you.
I absolutely love pineapple on pizza. Pineapples, Pepperoni and Jalapeños are phenomenal.
As a Brand, what do you look for when working with a social media Influencer?
As a Brand I look for a lot of things. As a Brand you represent more than just yourself, but everyone that associates with you. I look for solid reputation, ones that believes in who they are representing, not only looking to get paid to promote others and those that other local businesses support. We are contacted on a daily basis from “influencers” and at the end of the email or call they mention the small fee. There are some influencers that do work on a commission and believe in what we do and never have charged us a penny.
Do you work full time on the food truck? If so, what's it like?
I love working every shift on my truck. From making the dough to welcoming customers to building a team. Being a hands-on owner/operator has been the most satisfying time in my life.
Owning a business can be stressful, what keeps you motivated?
Stressful is an understatement - there is never a dull moment. Make sure you have some Chamomile tea in your pantry lol. What keeps me motivated is knowing Pie95 Pizza is doing it for the people. Pizza has such a horrible reputation as unhealthy and that’s not what we are serving our customers.
What do you see in the future for Pie95?
I would love Pie95 to move to a Brick-and-Mortar - to be able to serve our loyal customers without them having to track us down all over town.
What advice would you give to someone considering opening their own business?
I love the entrepreneurial spirit and support it 100%, but let’s be honest - it’s not for everyone. Hey, it may not be for me in the future, but here we are. Make sure, first, that you know your product is unique, don’t settle for mediocre, always be ready to evolve your product, know it’s going to be the hardest thing you ever do, but you’re doing it for you!!!
If you were having a dinner party and could invite any one celebrity guest, who would it be?
I’d love to invite Anthony Bourdain.
This guy influenced so many people, and not only Chefs. He showed the world food. Opened people’s eyes. Helped bring peace to different ethnicities and having people open their eyes the the global culinary world.
Is there something about you that might surprise people that follow you or know you?
Get to know me and lmk!!!!
In the words of Trevor Donovan, “I don’t eat fast food, but I can’t live without pizza.” Since we’re sure you can’t either, slide over to the Pie95 Insta to see where they will be each day!