Tag Archives: kickstarter

Mercado WNY and Neapolitan Pizza

1 Apr

Back in 2010, we were driving home from a Spring break trip to the Destin when we stopped off in Knoxville, TN for the night. Having no idea where to go for dinner, I thought pizza would be good, so I looked on Yelp and Urbanspoon for the best pizza in Knoxville. The answer was “Hard Knox Pizza“.  A quick-serve location, it had a simple menu with a boxing theme, a few beers on tap, and a wood-burning pizza oven. It was one of the first and most successful purveyors of what’s known in pizza circles as “Neo-Neapolitan” – taking the basics of Neapolitan pizza-making and giving it a contemporary twist. I spoke with the owner back then and learned a lot about how he got started and what it took for him to make a successful business.  Here’s a picture of the pie I had in Knoxville in late April 2010: 

Pizza snobs will tell you that proper Neapolitan pizza is done in such a way that it’s even governed by a few ad hoc bodies approving places as being “Verace Pizza Napoletana”, or similar. Under the VPN guidelines, you have to use a specific type of flour, San Marzano tomatoes, “00” flour and a very simple dough recipe, specific types of cheeses, a dollop of olive oil, and a few basil leaves to make the proper Neapolitan “Margherita” pizza.  The only other two official Neapolitan pies are the Marinara and the Margherita “extra”. There are several authentic VPN-certified locations in Toronto that offer up not just great pies, but a fun atmosphere; Queen Margherita Pizza, Pizzeria Libretto, and Pizza e Pazzi, to name a few. 

There are none in Buffalo. There are a few places that do something very close to the real thing – the 99 Brick Oven in Lancaster has a Marra Forno gas-assisted oven and produces a good pie. Rocco’s on Transit in East Amherst has a certification from a competing Neapolitan pizza group, and produces quality pies in wood-burning ovens, but you have to ask them to not spread olive oil over the cornicione for it to be really good. But no one in WNY consistently does anything resembling what’s happening in Toronto and the rest of North America. 

Last February, we traveled to the Southwest US and one of the stops we planned was to visit Pizzicletta in Flagstaff. Caleb Schiff had bicycled throughout Italy and built a wood-fired oven in his backyard, and we followed along on Slice.com as he set up his tiny Neapolitan pizza place, and we had to try it. It was a revelation – again, simple little place with simple ingredients making outstanding pies – with no certification. My favorite was the Amore oi Mari – 

Pizzicletta's Amore Oi Mari

Mascarpone, arugula, pecorino, prosciutto di Parma, and a drizzle of Meyer lemon olive oil – it was a rich, satisfying concoction the likes of which I haven’t had before or since. Well, since – I’ve tried to duplicate it a few times, but the mascarpone gets too gloppy and I haven’t figured out how to spread it more evenly. That’s a picture of the one we had in Flagstaff last February.  If I could, I’d drop everything and fly out to Arizona right now to have one and spend the next day at the Grand Canyon. 

Here’s Caleb hard at work: 

Caleb at work

Simplicity. Simple, fresh ingredients and a pie made in a Stefano Ferrara oven with love. It’s art. 

This past week, we went to one of our favorite local pizza places – La Hacienda in Niagara Falls. The owner is a great guy and he makes one of the best pizzas in the area. His menu contains an entire history of the Margherita pizza, and a funny quote about how they’re still “learning the ropes” and they hope to get it right someday. 

So, Mercado Revolution is introducing a European market concept to WNY. It’s something that’s been done in other cities, and will be modeled after the markets in Spain and the Union Market in D.C. It’ll have tapas, cheeses, chocolate, coffee, nuts, ice cream from Lake Effect and a Lloyd’s Taco test kitchen. The ambitious Kickstarter campaign concludes this Thursday, and it has a way to go to meet its goal, but it’s almost halfway there. It needs your help. 

One of the foods on offer will be wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. Whether it’ll be certified VPN or not, it’s too early to tell.  I can tell you that I intend to be involved in that venture in some capacity. I want to introduce this product that I think is so awesome to WNY – one of the simplest and oldest Mediterranean foods there is. If all goes well, we’ll have a Ferrara oven and it’ll be done right – it will be done to my satisfaction and in a way that will hopefully convert people over to the Neapolitan way. I will be your wood-burning pizza proselytizer-in-chief. 

If you want to see this happen, kick in to the Kickstarter and get Mercado over the hump

(This is not an April Fool’s prank, BTW)

Kristen Becker: Dykotomy Kickstarter

11 Sep


Local comedian Kristen Becker has worked tirelessly help improve, enhance, and grow Buffalo’s comedy scene. She is almost single-handedly responsible for bringing the Helium Comedy Club to town, which features big-name comics on a weekly basis. 

Now, she’s taking time out to do a more personal project, and she’s set up a Kickstarter to help fund it. Here is the thumbnail explanation of “Dykotomy”

Dykotomy is a film 12 years in the making. What started as an idea to document a tour with the Dykes of Hazard Comedy tour and the relationship history of comedian Kristen Becker has evolved into a full-fledged discussion of sexuality. You see, while Becker is an out gay woman, all of her exes are now involved or married to men. ALL. OF. THEM. This got her to thinking that there might be a story there. Many exes have agreed to be interviewed on film. There are some perks to this.

1.Onscreen chemistry? Check! These are all former girlfriends that Becker is still friends with!

2. Traveling from one geographic location to another (Massachusetts to Louisiana) allows us to get a wide range of perspectives from a very diverse group of lesbians. Do couples in states where marriage equality is legal act differently? Why do people choose to live in states where there isn’t marriage equality? Things of that nature.

3. COMEDY! Let’s not forget that the core of this is a stand-up tour. Expect fun clips from shows and post hangouts in “Uncle Jessie” (the 1986 conversion van that is a character in itself).

Follow the link below and please consider helping to fund this project. 

LandEscapes Kickstarter

20 Aug

Colleen Wall Darby calls herself an “inspirational artist”. She is taking some time out from her job to brighten the walls of medical clinics and hospitals, and the lives of people confined to a hospital bed

Born and raised in Buffalo, Darby spent the majority of her career working in the advertising field. In 2008, she became an artist in residence in a new arts in healthcare initiative created by the Center for the Arts at the University at Buffalo. She worked for three years at Women’s & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. The goal of her work was to help patients and family members escape from the stress of a hospital stay by using the power of their imaginations.

Darby says that this creative meditative state promotes healing, and she has set up a Kickstarter campaign to bring her talents to a wider audience. Called the “LandEscape” painting series, Darby says it will offer patients an escape from their environment through their imagination.

Darby is raising $10,000 to take a monthlong sabbatical, and create twenty inspirational landscape paintings specifically for the healthcare environment.  She is committed to getting these paintings installed in exam rooms, infusion units and waiting rooms, because  these are places where patients are uncomfortable and nervous. The paintings will offer patients and their families an escape from the sterile, cold medical environment. LandEscapes will depict views of more inviting places. They will include a road or a path to draw the viewer in, and the canvas will be filled with positive uplifting messages.

Check it out and consider a donation to Darby’s Kickstarter campaign to brighten the lives of people undergoing medical crises. It’s already almost fully funded as of Tuesday morning, and there are some great incentives available depending on your level of donation. 

Outrageous Outrage 2: Lloyd’s Taco Truck

9 Mar

A couple of weeks ago, Lloyd’s Taco Truck began a Kickstarter program in order to raise enough money to make a down payment on a second truck. They have just under 20 days to go, and are about 1/2 the way there. 

But people have denigrated Lloyd for seeking a “handout”, and expressing disapproval over a for-profit company “begging” for money from people without, e.g., offering a share in the business. 

So, here’s a fact-check. 

1. If you don’t want to participate in the Kickstarter, you don’t have to. No one’s making you. 

2. Kickstarter was created precisely so that for-profit entities can raise funding that they can’t come up with themselves, and can’t get a traditional loan for, so that the path from idea to reality is made easier. 

3. If you click on the prominent link at the top of the Kickstarter page, you discover this self-explanatory text: 

Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.

A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.

All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.

Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse. We hope you agree… Welcome to Kickstarter!

4. So, it’s specifically for creative projects, including food projects, is completely voluntary, and frankly will enable a very good, very popular local food business to expand by one truck and better serve customers. 

5. If you think Lloyd’s has made a lot of money in its first year, what with legal wrangling over city permitting, limited locations to set up, crappy weather during the winter of ’10 – ’11, and occasional truck problems, you’re wrong. It’s a tough slog, and no one’s getting rich. They need twelve grand to buy a new truck and expand – if you like tacos, you may choose to give them money and get a thank you gift in exchange – it’s win-win, as Lloyd’s gets to go more places, and you get to eat more Lloyd’s.  

6. Thousands of for-profit projects exist on Kickstarter, all of which can be subjected to the same criticism as Lloyds, yet there they are.  I mean, do you need a device that will remotely print stuff people tag on Instagram? Probably not,  but if you’d like one, or like to see one on the market, here you go. $100,000 worth of people have donated. 

7. Everyone just relax. It’s a taco truck. I’m a fan, and I’ve participated in the Kickstarter because I’d like there to be another one to patronize. Because the Lloyd’s guys are friends of mine, their food is good, and they’re pioneers of sorts. Other people have pledged money for their own reasons. If you don’t think it’s fair or right, then don’t participate. What I don’t understand is the outrage and, frankly, hatred I’ve seen in many online comments about this program. Even here at Artvoice, the weekly arrow up/arrow down roundup gave Lloyd’s an arrow down because they have the nerve to use an online funding service in exactly the way it’s intended to be used in order to ask fans for money they can’t raise any other way, at least not now. 

8. Lloyd’s isn’t the first local for-profit food-based business to use Kickstarter to help fund its growth and expansion, yet it’s the first to get a barrage of criticism. 

Lloyd to Buffalo: Kickstart Our Second Truck!

28 Feb
Lloyd's Taco Truck No. 3

Lloyd's Taco Truck No. 3 by gmeadows1 on Flickr

First, it was the Community Beer Works that used crowd funding service Kickstarter to help finance its growth, now Lloyd Taco Truck is turning to Buffalo, using Kickstarter to help fund a second truck. From their press release: 

Moving forward on their quest to bring Western New York fresh and delicious food, the owners of Lloyd Taco Trucks launched a campaign today to purchase a second food truck, Lloyd Dos. Click here to view the web page. Using Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, the effort will help mobilize customers and allow supporters to pool additional funds needed for the truck’s down payment. Patrons’ generosity will not go unnoticed, as they will receive enticing rewards for their participation.

“We are extremely grateful for the warm response we’ve received over the past year and a half,” said Peter Cimino, co-founder of Lloyd Taco Trucks. “We get requests to bring the truck to new locations on a daily basis. We wish we could satisfy our fans’ Lloyd cravings more often, so we are asking them to kindly support the cause and pledge at whatever level they are able.”

Kickstarter provides a means for business owners and entrepreneurs to offer unique products and experiences in exchange for monetary support. The system is “all or nothing funding,” which means a project must reach its goal before time runs out or receives nothing. Lloyd fans will have 30 days to pledge their support toward the company’s $12,500 goal.

“We imagined what would be most valuable to our fans, including exclusive and priceless offerings,” said Chris Dorsaneo, co-founder and chef of Lloyd. “Rewards include a year’s supply of burritos, a private five course meal with wine pairings, and even a Lloyd speed pass, which moves the bearer to the front of the line every time.”

Pledge levels start at $10 and offer a variety of accumulating rewards for each gift. All donors will get to sign the truck, receive a Lloyd bumper sticker and a free taco. Those pledging $2,000 or more will earn a catered party for up to 50 guests with a personalized menu featuring their favorite Lloyd specials.

About Lloyd Taco Trucks

Lloyd Taco Trucks is a traveling Buffalo food experience serving fun, fresh, Taquería style food. Childhood friends, Peter Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo, conceptualized Lloyd when they realized Western New York lacked palatable, affordable street food options. The timing was right when Dorsaneo moved back to Buffalo after working around the country in high end restaurants and resorts, and Cimino sought an entrepreneurial concept to take Buffalo by storm. Tomatillo pork tacos, braised beef burritos and tricked out nachos are the menu staples that keep hungry Buffalonians coming back for more. Lloyd has won many esteemed awards, including Artvoice’s “Best Street Food” and Buffalo Spree’s “Best Tacos in Western New York.”