by Eric A Thomas
Photo/Special to The Source
The pandemic played havoc with our lives in 2020 and some of 2021. Life plans were derailed, stalled or altered.
That whole proverbial phrase that starts, “when life gives you lemons,” may work for some, but other people need to rely on something more secure or what they know best.
Scheduled to take her interpreting certification test in April 2020 after studying at MacMurray College and Gallaudet University, Filippa Alfano had a dream put on hold. Due to COVID-19, the testing center was closed. So, Alfano continued to work at her family’s restaurant, Leo’s Pizza in Jacksonville. “I wanted something to call my own,” she says.
“No one realized that it would be a while before things could start to be normal again.”
Alfano teamed up with her friend, Taylor Kirchhofer, to think about different things that they could do. The brainstorming began and before long a new business was being planned. She saw a great work ethic in Kirchhofer and that is what she wanted in a business partner.
They came up with many ideas and finally, the concept of “Leo’s Pizza on Wheels” was born. After they spent many hours of research on food trucks, a good family friend from North Carolina named Jerry Neumann stepped in and helped them turn their research into reality. For three months Alfano and Neumann worked tirelessly to make this dream happen. “I am now an Amazon and eBay queen because of it all,” jokes Alfano.
Transforming a school bus into a pizza restaurant was no easy feat but it seemed that all the right people got involved. Alfano states, “We wanted to wrap the bus in a special design … Neumann had a friend whose name is Donnie Destro. He spray-painted the exterior of the bus for us.”
In mid-April, both Alfano and Kirchhofer made a trip to North Carolina to see their special creation for the first time; the two felt like all their hard work was paying off!
The general idea is simple. People travel from surrounding communities to get pizza at Leo’s, so they work to bring the pizza to those communities. Their schedule is based on their need to be at the main restaurant. Leo’s Pizza needs additional staff currently, so once those positions are filled, they will be free to take the bus out more. Thus, if the schedule allows, they hit the road.
Their opening day was May 15 in Barry. Waverly, Mt. Sterling and Glasgow were on their weekly schedule, but they may have updated this. As Leo’s is closed on Mondays, the bus will be stationed in the restaurant’s parking lot, operating from 3-8 p.m. Also, they are exploring other locations to travel.
When Leo’s Pizza on Wheels goes out, they usually are in that location for four or five hours and utilize up to six people to fully staff the outing. The menu contains something for everyone. Pizza selections are all thin crust with your choice of small, medium or large and a variety of toppings. They do have a 12-inch cauliflower crust pizza. Other items available are Bosco sticks, breadsticks, hot wings, walk-away meatballs, meatball subs, sausage subs, tossed salads and chef salads.
They have permits to operate their bus in various counties and, in some respects, the cities and towns have their own permits, as well. They are adding events and are also scheduled to appear at the Brown County Fair in Mount Sterling from August 3-8 and the Waverly Picnic, August 26-28.
Both Alfano and Kirchhofer wish to thank the many people that have supported their business. “We are grateful for every one of you,” exclaims Alfano.
Like and follow Leo’s Pizza on Wheels on Facebook to check the bus’ location and find out more information.
Maybe they will be coming to a town near you.