LITTLE CURRENT—It’s been a little over a week since Manitoulin’s very first PizzaForno pizza vending machine began pumping out piping hot 12” pizzas, and owner Brad Bond couldn’t be happier with the community’s support.
Mr. Bond is first to give full credit to his girlfriend Amy Clarke, who first suggested the idea of a PizzaForno on Manitoulin following the couple’s experience with the one located in downtown Sudbury.
When Mr. Bond found out the strip at 30 Manitowaning Road (located just across from Elliott’s Restaurant) had a portion of unused commercial property on its north side, he approached the owners to see if they might be interested in leasing it. When he explained why they were happy to accommodate the vending machine.
“I first called in February and they walked me through the franchise,” Mr. Bond noted, adding that he loves dealing with the Ontario-based company. There are roughly 30 PizzaFornos located across Ontario, but their popularity is surging with the trend picking up both here and in the States. This is Little Current’s second new franchise opening within the past year as the Tim Hortons restaurant opened last fall just down the street from the new pizza dispensary.
“It’s just taking off now,” he added.
Here’s how it works
There are eight varieties of pizzas to choose from: meat lovers, pepperoni, barbecue chicken, Hawaiian, four-cheese, goat cheese and honey, deluxe and vegetarian.
The pizzas are put together in Mr. Bond’s health unit-approved commercial kitchen, placed in boxes and put into the vending machine’s refrigerator. When an order is placed, either from the machine’s touch-screen or through the downloadable app, the pizza is put on a conveyor, shuttled into the oven side, the pizza box lid is opened and the pizza cooked. Three minutes later, the pizza, tucked back inside its box, is hot and steamy and ready for pickup from the machine’s slot.
A hand sanitizer is built into the machine, and biodegradable knives are also available to cut your pizza into slices, should you choose to share.
Mr. Bond explained that if a pizza hasn’t been sold in two days, the machine won’t let it be sold.
“Everything is fresh,” he added.
And Mr. Bond can’t say enough about the quality of PizzaForno’s ingredients.
“I eat healthy, so it had to be healthy,” he explained.
The thin crust is made from organic spelt flour and high quality extra virgin olive oil that is hand-stretched, hand-rolled then shipped to Mr. Bond’s door from southern Ontario. The sauce is hand-batched with tomatoes from Sicily. The cheese is of high milk-fat content for that perfect mix of stretchy and ooey gooey.
“(PizzaForno) really spares no expense with their ingredients,” Mr. Bond said. “Everything is of the highest quality.”
All the pizzas range from $12 and $13.
At our Friday morning interview, Mr. Bond shared that eight pizzas had been purchased between midnight and 7 am.
He saw the vending machine as filling a void for late-night food options on Manitoulin, something stats are already starting to prove.
The first week of business was a busy one, and Mr. Bond apologized for some hiccups he encountered, such as running out of ingredients for a day and problems with the tap option and some debit cards—all things he hopes to see ironed out as he gets accustomed to the wants and needs of his new customers.
In fact, the vending machine is proving to be so popular, and even before the busy summer months, that Mr. Bond is hiring a few employees to help pump out the pizzas (the vending machine holds 70 pizzas at one time).
The PizzaForno machine is located at 30 Manitowaning Road in Little Current, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pizzas can be purchased from the machine or through the PizzaForno app and paid for with debit or credit. They can also be purchased cold to cook at home, too.