Local couple creates pizza truck businessApril 14, 2021
By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
JASPER — Kyle and Jamie Jahn’s lives are full of nonstop, behind-the-scenes activity.
Most days, they wake up at 4:30 a.m. to lead workout classes and get ready for the day. They get coffee together every morning, but don’t usually have time to drink it together.
Then they go their separate ways again, Kyle to teach at Jasper Middle School and Jamie to her job at Kimball International. After work, they coach JMS cross country and Girls on the Run, respectively, and tend to their business, Downtown Fitness and Running.
By around 9:30 p.m., lights are out to get some much-needed rest before they have to do it all over again.
“There are times I don’t want to get up,” Kyle said. “It definitely takes each other.”
Recently, the Jasper couple has added a new endeavor to their lives: a food truck.
Running out of a 1952 Chevy flatbed, they will soon be serving handmade, wood-fired pizza — Neapolitan style, just like in Italy — to Dubois County.
The first big event featuring their business, Wood Capital Pizza, will be the Downtown Chowdown on May 12, but they’ll still be experimenting with smaller crowds in the meantime.
“We’ve never been in the food industry, so it’s a whole new learning curve,” Kyle said. “But our whole life we’ve been doing things like that anyway. It’s good to do something scary.”
The Jahns had been thinking about creating a food truck for about two years but could argue the journey of Wood Capital Pizza officially began when Kyle surprised Jamie by rolling into their business’ parking lot with the truck.
They had almost bought a different but nearly identical truck about a month earlier but decided that they weren’t ready. Yet here Kyle was, pulling up in the truck he’d just purchased at an auction.
“After spending the whole day there, it was one of the last things to go on the auction block and I was just shaking and nervous,” he said. “I didn’t know if it drove or started or anything like that … and then I pulled up with the truck and [Jamie] was like ‘Oh god, now what?’”
Before that, the couple had been interested in wood-fired pizza ever since they attended a fitness convention in Las Vegas years ago and ate at Wolfgang Puck. It was probably better than any pizza they’d ever had, they said — so much so that they went to the same restaurant again the next night and ate the same exact meal.
After that, they’d Google ‘wood-fired pizzas' whenever they’d travel to Indianapolis to see Kyle’s brother or travel to new places.
Eventually, Kyle decided to buy a wood-fired oven for their home, which was a big learning curve from the handmade pizzas he’d crafted before.
A lot goes into making a handmade, wood-fired pizza that most people probably don’t think about. The oven has to be watched almost constantly — Kyle doesn’t recommend the purchase to his friends with small children. He handles the dough balls at least three or four times before actually forming into the circular shape. The temperature outside matters, too.
Some bigger businesses get wood shipments, but Kyle uses wood from fallen trees that have to be chopped by hand.
“Pizza doesn’t fall from the sky,” he always says.
Fixing up the truck was its own tedious process, as well. Kyle and his dad made improvements over several months that included using reclaimed wood from a destroyed building to build the frame where the pizzas would be cooked.
“It was about 10 years ago that I actually had them cut up in boards and they’d been sitting in a shed ever since then, and I never knew what I was going to make with them,” Kyle said. “I thought I was going to maybe make some type of furniture, like a bench or a farm table, but it ended up being a pizza truck.”
The Jahns had been deciding on a business name for a while when one day, Jamie called Kyle with a suggestion: Wood Capital Pizza. Kyle immediately knew it was the perfect name, remembering that Jasper has been called “The Wood Capital of the World” because of its furniture companies.
Kyle said he’s still learning every day but that they’ve come a long way from the beginning. Now, they’re looking to hire employees and have already heard from other local events that want their pizza.
It’s a scary endeavor, they agreed. They’ve invested a lot of time and money in the truck, and there’s still technically a chance it could all flop.
But the Jahns have always been dreamers. Living in a smaller town, it can be hard to remember to branch out, to travel and try new things. But the sense of adventure has always been in their nature.
Years ago, the couple opened Downtown Fitness and Running because they didn’t want to drive over an hour to buy shoes and figured that others felt the same. Now, they’re starting a food truck business because if they enjoy wood-fired pizza then others in Dubois County probably do — or would — too.
“I remember a time when we first started the store that you get that feeling in your stomach, you’re nauseated almost,” Kyle said. “You think you’re just going to lose everything to pay bills. But we just hung in there and prayed and somehow it worked.”
Just as with any other leap in their lives, the food truck has brought them a good deal of nerves. They’re feeling good about it, though, even if business is slow at first.
“Food is a way different feeling, though,” Jamie said, “because everybody likes food.”
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