Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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4 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T 2 0 1 7 Marra Forni When Savannah, Ga. gave the green light for food trucks to do business in the city about a year ago, Kay Heritage and her sister Sunju Pitts decided to look into opening a mobile wood-fired pizza business. Kay's husband Kevin began researching the different options, while the sisters visited wood-fired pizza oven manufacturer Marra Forni's test kitchen in Washington, D.C. to determine their options. After visiting a friend's pizza food truck, which was catering a wedding rehearsal dinner event, the sisters knew what they didn't want in a wood-fired oven. "There were 75 people total, and we observed people standing in line for 15 to 20 minutes at this party," says Kay Heritage. "We didn't want to do that." After much research, the family, which also includes Kay and Kevin's sons Kevin Jr. and Christian and daughter Anna, created Big Bon Piz- za. This mobile catering business fea- tures traditional and Asian-inspired Neapolitan pizza, and Marra Forni's wood-fired oven is the centerpiece. Marra Forni ovens are built using the same tried and tested process used by Italian masons hundreds of years ago. Its brick-by-brick building process is superior to cement and able to withstand years of use with- out cracking. This process ensures the most efficient heat absorption, retention and consistent cooking possible, resulting in huge gas bill savings. And because each oven is made to order, operators have the option to customize the look to com- plement and enhance the scenery. "Instead of locating the oven inside, the trailer is opened fully on three sides, so the entire production process is on display," says Heritage. "This creates the heart of an event, but also an experience that encom- passes all of the senses." The environment is akin to people gathering in a home kitchen for a meal, yet also provides the illusion of an Italian festival, with globe lights setting the scene. The Marra Forni wood-fired oven not only imparts a theater experi- ence guests can see, but the roaring fire also can be both heard, smelled and almost tasted, setting a scene that wows event attendees. "When people see my son Kevin scooping fresh dough out of the tray to be stretched, topped and cooked in the fire, it brings home the old adage that people really eat with their eyes first," says Heritage. "We've visited many operations where wood-fired ovens aren't visible, even in open kitchens, yet this is central to the sensory experience. Setting the theme is critical, whether it's a brick and mortar or mobile operation." She says in the event the opera- tion does become more permanent and finds a home in a building, Marra Forni's wood-fired oven will remain front and center as part of the dining experience. "Not only do guests trust an op- eration more because they can see the entire process, but the oven pro- vides a convivial feel," says Heritage. "With everyone gathered around the fire sharing great food and being together, it's like welcoming them to our family table." A Sensory Feast Marra Forni's oven is the centerpiece of Big Bon Pizza's operation From left: Sunju Pitts, co-owner, Anna Heritage, daughter, Kay Heritage, co-owner

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