Tweeting yourself to a delivered pizza
It's a Saturday night, you send a quick text or Tweet, head to the corner, pass over the money, and get the goods – piping hot homemade pizza.
"Everything is better when it's sketchy," says one of the two men behind Albany's new underground pizza business, Tweetzzapizza.
Each week a menu is posted on the Twitter account (@Tweetzzapizza), and from 7:30pm on Saturday night until pizzas sell out, you can place an order via Tweet or text. Arrange a meeting place, and head over to pick up your homemade pizza, delivered via bycicle.
The Twitter-based eatery was launched on September 11 of this year and has been open almost every Saturday night since. The creators are two friends of four years; one cooks while the other delivers, markets, and manages. Both wish to remain anonymous due to the mysterious nature of their business.
"It wasn't serious at all, at first," said the cook.
"The way our friendship works is I come up with a crazy idea, and he eggs me on. Or he comes up with a crazy idea, and I egg him on," said the manager.
They came up for the idea for Tweetzzapizza one night when they were hanging out with friends around a computer. While joking about starting a pizza business, they decided to do it – but keep it sketchy. After creating an e-mail account and coming up with the username (pizzaunderground was one letter too long), Tweetzzapizza was born.
Operating out of the cook's one-oven kitchen, Tweetzzapizza is makeshift and homemade in every sense. Delivery, while occasionally by car, is often via a cargo bicycle from the Troy Bike Rescue.
"It's sort of a Frankenbike," said the manager. The bike has a tandem frame with a piece of plywood strapped to it to carry the pizzas. "It amazes me, how many girls are totally okay with meeting a guy on a bike on the corner at night."
For the first few weeks, the duo sold about eight or nine pizzas, but now sell anywhere in the high teens.
"I just really like pizza," said the cook, who learned to make pies by trial-and-error. Each Saturday, the menu includes a 3-cheese pizza, hot sopressata pizza, and a weekly special. The specials have included buffalo chicken, jalapeño and onion, pesto, which sold out in two hours and was added to the weekly menu.
The cook makes all the dough from scratch, and tries to incorporate seasonal vegetables into each week's special.
At first, clientele included the creators' friends, but now the two are proud to say they deliver to a number of different people and have hooked a few regulars.
Their customers are mostly twenty-something college graduates, but also include a few young professionals and some wild cards. They believe the young age range of their patrons is due to the nature of their business – the only people who have heard of them must be well-versed in Twitter.
"Once someone asked me if I'd take homebrew as a tip," said the manager. "I freaked out and said, ‘Absolutely. That's exactly the point of this.'"
As the deliverer, the manager says he's also been tipped in exotic mixed drinks from a regular customer.
Bread.Butter.Cheese. and The Underground Lobster Pound are similar "underground" food services based in New York City, delivering grilled cheese sandwiches and lobster roll in a mysterious, secretive manner.
The men at Tweetzzapizza say they had never heard of such businesses before starting their own, but agree that this sort of thing is more fitting for New York City than Albany.
The laws in Albany outlaw any sort of food vending trucks, with the exception of a specific block around the Capital, "Which is bullshit," says the cook.
"At the end of the night, we don't really even talk about the money," he says. "It's just a lot of fun."
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