The Gardner brothers have given new meaning to the phrase “rolling in the dough” after figuring out a new profitable method of bringing meals to the hungry BYU student masses. They call it Pizza Bus.
Sam Gardner, a 28-year-old BYU economics graduate from Heber, and his two younger brothers — Rob, 25, and Ben, 23 — plan to bring their new mobile restaurant to BYU and UVU campuses this fall in a full-size 1960s GMC bus they found in the KSL classifieds for a mere $750.
“It was actually the cheapest part of everything that we bought,” Sam Gardner said.
This year the Gardner brothers have divided the labor on restoring the bus — all the while juggling school and part-time jobs — to prepare for its grand opening at the beginning of fall semester. The bus will be decked out, complete with bright green paint, music speakers and an Xbox 360 system for customers to play while they eat their pizza.
The idea first sparked last June when the brothers were living in Hawaii. They came across a pizza truck, a small operation close to Sunset Beach on the North Shore.
“It seemed pretty popular,” Sam Gardner said. “So we thought we could bring that to Provo.”
Soon after their return, the brothers found a bus, bought it and went to work. The close-knit brothers say that although they may look alike, they all bring something different to the table.
“It takes the formal aspect of business out of play, so we’re not worried about offending each other,” Sam Gardner said. “Anyone can speak freely. I think that’s actually a pro as far as knowing exactly how everyone feels about the direction in which the business is going.”
Rob Gardner said when the brothers do have a disagreement, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“We don’t always see eye to eye, and we are definitely not the same,” Rob Gardner said. “We have different strengths and weaknesses, but we are family, and our similarities unite us, while our differences make us strong.”
Ben Gardner, a junior majoring in advertising, said he enjoys working in a business with his brothers.
“We have a lot of fun,” Ben Gardner said. “We often quote a Psych episode when they’re starting their business: ‘No guaranteed money, but all guaranteed fun!'”
Each of the brothers has a specific role in the business based on their interests and what they have studied at BYU.
“Sam is in charge of business operations because he graduated from BYU in economics with a minor in business,” Ben Gardner said. “I’m in charge of marketing, and Rob is in charge of what he calls the ‘revenue crew.'”
One of the most crucial elements for the Gardner brothers’ business has been coming up with a good pizza recipe, which has proved to be a big obstacle — since none of the brothers have experience in the food industry — but one that they have finally overcome.
“We learned everything we know from two sources,” Sam Gardner said. “One was direct contact with people who have worked in the industry, and the other was YouTube, which we actually learned a lot of valuable information from.”
For the brothers, the pizza testing has been one of the most adventurous parts of their business creation.
“I love improving our pizzas,” Ben Gardner said. “We get to taste-test so many pizzas and try new things with pizzas. We have a really good recipe, and our dough is coming out beautifully.”
And the Gardners are not the only ones who think so.
Bryan and Natalie Mickelson, a Heber couple, invited the Gardner brothers to cater a party, where the brothers brought 12 different pizzas for the guests to taste-test.
“We were pretty impressed,” Natalie said. “It was really good, and everyone liked it.”
Bryan Mickelson, a friend of the Gardners, said he has been amazed at the progress in the brothers’ pizza making.
“First they had to get the dough right and then cooking it in the oven for just the right amount of time,” Bryan said. “The first pizzas were not really round, they were just different shapes. Then they started getting more round, and then they got quicker at flipping the dough in the air.”
Mickelson said now he thinks the brothers have it down to an art.
“I think it will be a screaming success,” he said.
Kade Hortin, a junior studying radiology at the Utah Valley Hospital through Weber State, has been a regular taste-tester for the pizza experiments and feels that the Gardners have finally nailed it.
“It’s really good,” Hortin said. “I think it’s a lot better than any of your fast-producing pizza chains. Domino’s is my favorite, but I think theirs is better than that. I love home-style pizza.”
The brothers also plan on making deals with local businesses to be able to park in their lots, hoping to form mutually beneficial relationships. They are talking with Provo City about when and where they can park their bus.
“People do things that other people say they can’t do every day,” Rob Gardner said. “We think that if we have the capital and the drive, the three of us, we could build anything and make it work. This is what living the American dream is all about. You have an idea, you work hard for it and make it happen.”