In the five days since The Pizza Cart owners Jason and Cindy Murray launched their Kickstarter campaign to help them move their tiny pizza business indoors, they have earned more than two thirds of their $15,000 goal.
Though Cindy said she was thinking that a more conservative goal of $10,000 might be easier to attain, Jason said he was confident that the community support would be there – so they said they decided together to just go for it.
“It’s really hard to choose an amount when you start something like this,” Cindy said. “At first I thought, well, maybe we should just do 10, because with Kickstarter if you don’t get it all completely funded, you don’t get any of it.”
Cindy said the majority of the funds came within the first two days, and has slowed down a bit since, but she is more confident now than ever before that they will meet their goal. For the first day however, she said she was glued to the computer in awe as the total donations climbed higher and higher.
Jason said he wasn’t surprised at all to meet 70 percent of his goal so quickly. He said the Cedar City community has really embraced his little family business, and he knew they would be supportive of the new adventure to come.
“We really have some of the best customers,” Jason said. “You’d be surprised how cool they really are if you took the time to talk to them, and they come from all different backgrounds.”
Pizza Cart employee Brandon Jensen said he believes that is what sets his boss aside from the rest – he actually takes the time to get to know his customers, and genuinely cares when he asks them how they’re doing.
Jensen said he has learned a lot about how to run a business since he started working for the Murrays. One of the most important lessons so far, has been that the quality of care is just as important as the quality of the food, because he said creates lasting bonds with customers.
“It takes a real genuine person to sit and talk to someone, anyone, for half-an-hour,” he said. “He’s changed a lot of my outlooks on things and it’s really nice to be surrounded by people like that.”
It all started six years ago in the Murray’s backyard Jason said. He said he never intended for it to become a business, he just wanted to build a cool “cob” oven in his yard that his kids could enjoy helping to create.
He said that at first, it was like an obsession for him; he would watch one YouTube video after another while planning how to construct it. Finally, during a visit from his brother, who had already successfully built his own oven, Jason said they just went for it.
Cindy said the first pizzas they made turned out fabulous. She said they would often have neighbors over and experiment with different pizza recipes and styles until they got the recipes down pat.
Jason said his brother had successfully taken his pizza oven on the road to fairs and various event’s, so he said he thought to himself, why not build one that I can transport and use to sell pizzas.
Their first event was the Utah Midsummer Renaissance Faire, and the Murray’s said they were surprised to see how many pizzas they sold on the first day. He said that after their second successful year at faire, they decided to see what would happen if they just set up on the street somewhere in town.
Cindy said that they were very fortunate at the last minute to find, not only a place to set up their cart, but also a place to cold store food. For nearly four years now, the Murrays have been setting up in the parking lot of Ace Hardware, and storing their cold foods in the coolers at Sunshine Nutrition.
“It was the last hour, of the last day that we were at the fair,” Cindy said. “The lady from Sunshine asked where she could find us after the faire was over, and when we told her we still needed a place to store food, she told us – ‘Done’.”
Cindy said they could never have gotten the operation off the ground without the amazing generosity of both local businesses and the immense support of the community backing them.
The $15,000 goal is just a small portion of what it will take to get The Pizza Cart off the street and into a storefront, Jason said. He said they have a lease signed already and there is a lot of work to do in order to get the restaurant open.
“We have to knock down a wall, build the oven, so many things,” he said. “It’s going to cost $17,000 just to walk in there and get started on everything.”
Thankfully, he said that the building owners are paying a portion of the renovations. He said his goal is to have everything ready so they can open their doors by November 1.
For information about how to donate, visit Kickstarter.com and type The Pizza Cart into the search field.
Information about The Pizza Cart, as well as a direct link to their Kickstarter campaign is available on facebook on their group page.