Pandemic porch pies: Trendy Toronto pizza joint is actually in this man's backyard
TORONTO -- What started out as a way to make some money during the COVID-19 pandemic has quickly turned into a pizza making business for one Toronto family.
Luke Pollard -- who regularly makes pizza for his friends and family -- told CTV's Your Morning that the enterprise started in March, when the novel coronavirus put a stop to his construction business, resulting in both he and his wife Brianna being out of work.
Towards the end of March, Pollard said his wife asked him how big his pizzas were. An hour later, she told him that custom-made boxes were coming the next day and that they were going to sell pizzas from their backyard the following weekend, to make some extra cash.
"It started off just with some friends, family, and then I started posting online on Instagram, and people started to reach out and then eventually we got a little profile in Toronto Life, and since then it's just been hundreds and hundreds of requests so it's been a lot of fun," Pollard said in an interview on Wednesday.
Customers can choose from four different pies -- cheese, pepperoni, spicy pepperoni with pickled jalapenos, and mushroom special. Each pizza costs $20 and comes with a homemade creamy garlic-and-dill dipping sauce.
Pollard said Torontonians from all over the city have been flocking to his Riverdale home for a taste.
"It's been a real fun experiment and journey, and it's just really a good time," he said.
Before COVID-19, the couple entertained almost every weekend, and as Pollard's pizzas got better and better, the dinner parties turned into weekly pizza nights.
However, Pollard's love for pizza began when he was a kid.
Growing up, Pollard said his mom loved to cook and instead of ordering pizza on Friday nights, she would make it herself.
"We started off ordering from chains, things like that, and then my mom, she started making her own dough and it kind of really opened my eyes to how delicious pizza can be once you get past the store-bought stuff," Pollard said, explaining that he set his sights on creating his own perfect pizza recipe.
"It's something I've worked on for a lot of years and finally developed this recipe that I can do out of my home oven that the final product is something that you might find at a pizzeria," Polland said.
Polland said pizza making is a process and he has to start readying the pies days before they’re sold.
"I typically start making the dough for Saturday on a Wednesday morning and that's a couple hour process. I let it do its thing for a few hours out, then it goes in the fridge for a long, cold, slow ferment, and then Saturday morning we start to prep and get ready for the afternoon," Polland said.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions lifting and his construction business having resumed work, Pollard said he enjoys making pizza so much that he hopes to keep the new business venture going.
"As soon as the restrictions lifted we've been slammed between [construction] and doing the pizza and it's been very busy," Pollard explained.
"But it's one of those things where the response has been phenomenal, and it's definitely something we want to pursue. So… we're just going let it sort of organically evolve."
With only selling 10 pizzas one night a week, Pollard admits that it's difficult for Torontonians to get their hands on a pie but said he's looking to expand the business.
"Right now, even just with friends and family, it's pretty hard to get one to everybody so we're looking to scale up and we're going to be doing a pop up in the near future so we can just get more pizza out to more people," Pollard said.
"Because there's nothing better than handing somebody a fresh pizza and seeing the smile on their face."