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Going Mobile: Recession Pies takes brick-oven pizza on the road

a piece of the action.I have a heartfelt sympathy for young people starting out in these challenging times. I too was thrown into the work

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a piece of the action.
  • a piece of the action.
a piece of the action.I have a heartfelt sympathy for young people starting out in these challenging times. I too was thrown into the work world during a recession and know the frustration of limited opportunities and chronic underemployment. Of course, I handled it the old fashioned way-the Gen-X, pre-Internet-boom way-and without hesitation or any honest attempt at alternative ideas, moved back home with my mom, wrangled up some temp work for which I was highly overqualified yet performed with total incompetence and took the LSAT, the GRE and a two-week stint in bartending school over the course of my lengthy search for direction. Not so with Alex Mackay, Tim Colla and Rachel Marcus. Life handed them lemons, and they made...pizza.

Alex, who was scraping by in Brooklyn, and his childhood friend Tim and girlfriend Rachel in San Francisco decided to take matters into their own hands. All in their mid-20s with no business or professional cooking experience, they came up with the concept of a vending cart complete with a high-temperature oven, a prep area and refrigeration space. They had their design built in California, chose Bend as their location and set up shop. Recession Pies opened for business downtown in early March. Ah, kids today.


After researching recipes and cooking techniques, they initially envisioned offering a variety of items based around pastry dough as well as thin-crust pizza. Now, with a little over three months of trial and error under their belts, they've decided to focus on pizza. They also imagined that it would be most lucrative to stake out a regular downtown corner and use the traditional street vendor model, but they're now exploring other opportunities including festivals and events, private parties and their latest success, Monday nights at the Riverside Market. The original goal was also that the business would generate enough income to support the three of them, but, alas, they have all taken part-time jobs to supplement. Yet they still see big potential. It's a constant learning experience, according to Alex, and they seem to be paying close attention to the lessons learned.

It certainly shows in the pizza. The oven only fits one large pizza at a time but at 700 degrees Fahrenheit cooks it in 90 seconds, so every pie you get is prepared for you personally and served fresh out of the oven. The crust is very thin and always crispy around the edges, but you may want to ask for it even crispier, particularly when loading it with toppings, so it's firm in the center. You can get pretty much any combination of ingredients they have in their coffers, but favorites from the menu include Redmond Smokehouse pepperoni and roasted garlic ($8), Redmond Smokehouse turkey sausage with onions and mushrooms ($9) and cheese with roasted garlic and fresh basil ($6). Smaller, personal-sized pizzas ($3.50-$5) are also available and the most popular item when the cart is parked on Bond Street and Oregon Avenue for hungry Friday and Saturday night revelers.

Riverside Market Mondays has proven to be a great fit and one of their favorite gigs. With an almost circus atmosphere-there was a masseuse stationed out front working for nothing but tips and a gaggle of drunken men with guitars last week-and a rotating crowd of both Riverside regulars and Recession Pies fans filling the outdoor tables, it may be the most entertaining spot in town to enjoy hot pizza and cold beer on a summer day, all for recession-level prices. Also look out for Recession Pies at Bite of Bend this weekend, as well as events throughout the year.

Recession Pies
Mon. 5-9 p.m. at Riverside Market, 285 NW Riverside Blvd.; Fri.-Sat. 10:30 p.m.-close at Bond St. and Oregon Ave.; e-mail bendpiecart@gmail.com for info on participation in events and private catering.

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