Pizza bus services the ‘Boro
“We’ll be around!” is the slogan on the illuminated sign on the front of Shorty’s Pizza Bus, Murfreesboro’s first mobile pizza service. Shorty’s aims to please pizza lovers who are hungry at the peak hours of junk food binging in a college town– dusk to dawn.
The short, yellow school bus caters to anyone from Greek Row to the square, and anywhere they can manage in between. Inside the bus is a kitchen, complete with a linoleum floor, a pizza oven, refrigerated preparation station, dome lights and a triple sink.
“One bus with one oven,” said owner Daniel Rodenburg, a 26-year-old MTSU alumnus.
This is how it works: a customer calls Shorty’s with an order, and Rodenburg writes it down on a magnet and sticks it to the ceiling of the bus. While in the bus, he prepares the pizza and puts it in the oven. Shorty’s cooks the pizza en route so it is literally fresh out of the oven at arrival.
Shorty’s uses a spicy, New York-style thin crust, served one size—14 inches. A bakery in Nashville makes the crust from scratch. The price of a pie is always the same $10 flat, $11 after tax ($1 more for anchovies). Toppings are included, like cheese, mushrooms, three kinds of peppers, pineapple, olives, onions, pepperoni, chicken, sausage, bacon and ham.
“It’s a little crispier than most New York pizza, but that’s just our style… very crunchy, there’s a good little spice on there,” Rodenburg said as he sprinkled crushed red pepper, garlic, parsley and Parmesan cheese on an order.
The idea of a mobile pizza service was born when Rodenburg met Michigan man Derick Robertson, 50, at a music festival called Rothbury. Robertson, a retired army veteran, sold busses and made custom concession carts. When Rodenburg mentioned the idea of a mobile food concept in Murfreesboro, Robertson geared the idea toward a pizza bus delivery service. They kept in touch.
In May 2010, the entrepreneurs kept up communication from Murfreesboro to Knoxville, where Robertson currently lives, and started planning the marketing scheme for Shorty’s and building the bus.
The name grew out of Rodenburg’s affectionate tendency to call Robertson “shorty,” an ironic play on Robertson’s height– 6’4”.
The logo, an Aerosmith-esque winged circle surrounding groovy ‘60s-style letters, was designed by a Murfreesboro man who won a logo contest sponsored by Rodenburg and Robertson.
“We’ve got a positive response from everyone. People seem to love the pizza,” Rodenburg said as he paced around the bus kitchen, moving a box of tie-dyed Shorty’s Pizza bus t-shirts into a cabinet.
Possible expansions for Shorty’s Pizza Bus include a taxi service that delivers pizza and people, or a drive-in movie theater/driving range that serves pizza. Since Robertson is still staying in Knoxville, Rodenburg is doing the labor of the business solo with some help from family and friends.
“We’re just looking forward to continuing to do it and at least get more efficient and more delicious as we go,” Rodenburg said.