Another farmers market vendor is using his stand as a launchpad into a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Arie Peisert, chef/owner of Northern Fires Pizza is opening a year-round, takeout-only setup.
Peisert’s wood-burning pizza oven, which he hauls around on a trailer, turns out some of the Twin Cities’ most memorable pizzas. He and his crew are a familiar sight at the Mill City Farmers Market, Kingfield Farmers Market and Nokomis Farmers Market, and as soon as early November they’ll be drawing their legions of fans to 42nd and Cedar in south Minneapolis, in the small-scaled building that was most recently home to Dulceria Bakery (1839 E. 42nd St., Mpls.).
“This seems like the logical next step,” said Peisert. “The goal was to create good jobs for my employees. They commit to me all summer, but have to find other jobs in the winter. And I’ve never really bought into the whole restaurant model. This is so much more manageable, it’s not a huge and expensive footprint.”
Diners will be able to order online and pick up pizzas from a walk-up window. The plan is to serve dinner five nights a week, then gradually add lunch.
The seasonally minded menu will rotate often (“Eventually I hope to change it daily,” said Peisert), with six to eight pizzas and a few salads, all prepared with locally sourced ingredients.
“I’m looking into playing around with some wood-fired pastas,” said Peisert. “We’re going to expand the menu in lots of different directions. I like the idea of cooking stuff that people can enjoy 20 to 30 minutes later without it suffering in quality.”
Peisert and his crew have been operating out of a shared commissary kitchen that they long outgrew. Now they’ll be able to service the restaurant as well as continue to keep the trailer supplied for its farmers markets and private events appearances. Post-pandemic, Peisert also hopes to resume his partnership with Bang Brewery in St. Paul, and is also considering an in-house delivery system.
“But nothing outsourced to the delivery apps,” he said.
In a fortuitous friend-of-a-friend connection, Peisert purchased a pizza oven and other kitchen equipment from Pizza Brutta in Madison, Wis.
“They had a second location that they closed,” said Peisert. “Fortunately, I reached out at the right time.”
Does Peisert have any reservations about taking this next step during such a challenging period?
“Yes, it’s a tough time, but I see a lot of opportunity and positivity coming from this,” he said. “For six years we’ve been making pizzas in 30-degree weather and 100-degree weather, sunshine or snow, and we worked so hard to uphold standards and make pizza that we’re proud of. Now we’re going to be doing that in a controlled environment. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity, I think it’s a perfect situation.”