April 1, 2014 |

Conversation with Brian Wildrick — Harborside Pizza, Cordova, AK

By Pizza Today

Brian Wildrick lets us in on ordering supplies in a remote area


Brian Wildrick, Harborside, Alaska

Brian Wildrick with wife Lindsay Butters and son Rowan, along with Huskies — Kaya (left) and Biggie.

Harborside Pizza Cordova, Alaska The wood-fired pizzeria is located in a remote town on the Gulf of Alaska only accessible by plane or boat. Wildrick makes an elaborate multiple-day supply run four to five times per year that involves a long ferry ride and drive to Anchorage — 150 miles to the northwest.   We have figured out the cheapest way to get the best ingredients is to bring our 15-passenger van with the seats out on the ferry and make the rounds to Costco, Food Services of America and Sysco. We also utilize local resources, growing what we can, like spinach and lettuce in the summer, and taking advantage of our famous Copper River Salmon. We make these runs three or four times a year, and to supplement we shop locally for produce, and place orders to be shipped via barge, which get delivered by a local shipping company. We face many challenges in such a remote area. The cost of doing business is high, the labor pool is small, the number of possible people you have to market to is limited —about 2,300 in the winter and 4,000 in summer, the weather is extreme and keeping the firewood dry is difficult. We’ve gotten 34.5 inches of rain in the last 24 days, which could have just as easily been snow, as with Snowpocalypse 2012. The rewards of being part of tight-knit community and the cool things like dogsled delivery make the challenges worth taking on. We operate year round, and the whole family helps. We currently operate out of a 24-foot trailer with our wood-fired oven attached to the back. Our goal is to build a sit down place to make a year-round place for people to gather and eat delicious food. The advice I have for anyone opening a pizzeria in a small town is to do your market research, study the political structures concerning purchasing and developing property, and provide consistent, quality products with great customer service. In a small town, everybody knows your name, so it’s important to build your reputation, give back to your community and handle adversity in a professional manner. The rewards for doing a great job are really heart felt and that makes the challenges well worth facing.