The first three rules of environmentalism are reduce, reuse, and recycle. And at Pizza On Earth, a pizza place in Dorset, Ontario, those mainstays are now built into the business model. Last week, the parlor began utilizing residual heat from the pizza ovens to bake bagels every morning. Sarah Jane Johnson opened Pizza On Earth in 2010 between her second and third years in music school.
“Tired of working for my father’s timber frame company during the summers,” Johnson says on her company website, “I applied to the Summer Company Grant which I had heard of through my cousin. My original idea was to open a cafe, knowing that Dorset lacked good coffee, but when I excitedly told my neighbor my idea, he let out a large guffaw and said, ‘What Dorset REALLY needs is a pizza place!’ Mom and Dad thought he had a point. Eventually Dad added, ‘Well, if we’re going to do this, we’d better do it right. I’ll build you a wood-fired oven.’"
The oven Johnson’s father built was modeled after 2,000-year-old ovens used in Pompeii. She named it Vesuvius and opened the doors of her brand-new, wood-fired pizza place.
Today, Pizza On Earth is a thriving, seasonal business that has become a staple in its town and sells on average more than 100 gourmet pizzas every day.
What to do with all that oven heat?
Business has continued to bustle since Johnson opened Pizza On Earth’s doors. So much so, her father recently built her a second, much larger oven that can hold five pizzas at once. Johnson named that oven Etna—and can that thing hold some heat!
Johnson spent Pizza On Earth’s off-season working as a bagel-maker at a European-style bakery in Newfoundland. That experience inspired her to add bagels to the pizza shop menu earlier this month—but there was one very special detail.
Because of how well her ovens retain their temperatures (for hours after the pizza shop has closed for the night), Johnson is able to use the residual warmth from the night prior’s pizza-baking to cook the bagels. Nothing is wasted, and nothing is lost, and in the interim, this clever entrepreneur has extrapolated one business out into another.
Etna is kept at 750 degrees Fahrenheit during the days and evenings so Johnson can make her popular pizza pies. In the morning, Etna is still holding at 450 degrees—a perfect temperature for baking bagels.
Johnson starts her bagels two days before baking, using a sourdough starter. Twenty-four hours before making a batch of bagels, the starter is mixed with a yeasted bagel dough. The recipe is obviously working for Johnson, as her customers are telling her these bagels rank alongside the best in the world. In fact, she’s sold out of her daily offerings of 10 dozen bagels every day since offering them.
Sharing restaurant space could help more restaurants get off the ground.
Bolstered by the sensation her bagels are causing, Johnson has started baking almond and orange-buttermilk scones with residual pizza-oven warmth, as well. It begs the question: Why are there so many bagel shops and pizza parlors not joining forces to cut costs on space and energy use while also celebrating the act of simply using less?
Johnson’s work offers an enticing vision of ways restaurants with complementary hours and endeavors can band together to utilize the same space with a fraction of the energy. Pizzas and bagels. Does it get more perfect than that?