KENOSHA, Wis. — Kenosha native Riki Tagliapietra understood the odds stacked against him in opening a pizza business in a city with deep Italian heritage.
“I think on paper, starting a pizza business in Kenosha is a terrible, terrible business plan,” Tagliapietra said. “There’s already probably 50 pizzerias in this town and one more seemed like probably a crazy move.”
But nothing seemed crazier than an idea he had two years ago. Tagliapietra drove to Medina, Ohio to look at an old fire truck and immediately fell in love with it.
“I was instantly like a 9-year-old kid,” said Tagliapietra, owner of Cut Stone Foods. “You open the garage door and I was standing in front of a fire truck. I’ve got to drive it at least. The rest is history at this point.”
Tagliapietra turned the fire truck into a wood-burning pizza business on wheels. It was recently named mobile pizza business of the year by Pizza Today.
The business is owned and operated by Tagliapietra and his wife Jandel Kelly-Tagliapietra and their daughter Rhyen Kelly.
“There’s a lot of great people out there doing great things in the mobile food business,” Kelly-Tagliapietra said. “To be considered as the top mobile pizza business in the country is pretty amazing.”
And what 10-year-old wouldn’t want to own their own fire truck?
“Most of my friends think it’s really cool,” Rhyen Kelly said. “A couple of them like have been inside of it and stuff. They all think it’s really cool.”
The goal is to expand the brick-and-mortar business into a year-round operation in addition to the seasonal food truck, according to Riki Tagliapietra.
“We’re going to keep growing and as long as people want to eat awesome pizza, we’ll keep making it,” Riki Tagliapietra said. “We’ll keep coming up with new, bizarre ways to make it fun.”