THUNDER BAY – A local pizzeria is looking to make their pies available to a larger slice of the population.
Eat Local Pizza owner Jim Stadey wants to move forward with a plan to mass produce frozen pizzas, made with the same local ingredients that are currently used but with the product marketed beyond just Thunder Bay.
“Now that we’ve matured as a business and now that we have our place in the community a bit more fleshed out, we’ve decided it’s important to diversify our income and something like frozen pizzas looks like it’s a great way to do that,” Stadey said on Thursday.
“We have the base in the market now where we feel confident and we’ve been exploring markets in other cities, doing a bit of a market study, and determining there is a need and interest for different products.”
Stadey said frozen pizzas, with their ability to quickly freeze and refreeze, make them a quick and easy product for people to buy and store.
“People like to have backup meals,” Stadey said. “Everyone has a couple of options they like to keep in their freezer. If we can become part of that market, that’s fantastic.”
The first phase, through grants received from the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre, involves working with vacuum sealing and expanding refrigeration and storage capabilities. Stadey said he is meeting with the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission to discuss a second phase, which would involve a walk-in freezer and blast chiller.
While work during those first two phases will be done out of their Red River Road location, a future third phase intends to pursue at a separate production facility.
Two jobs have been created through the initial product development phase and Stadey said he expects the production eventually leading to eight new full-time jobs.
Frozen pizzas could be available for public purchase as early as this summer. Stadey anticipates pepperoni and vegetarian options being available initially, along with popular favourites like their pierogi pizza.
“It’s going to be local products but it will be a broad distribution, first starting out within the city and then cities around Thunder Bay and broader Ontario and potentially beyond,” Stadey said.
Eat Local’s foray into the frozen food market could also include pastas.