THE PIZZA BANDIT: Stealing the hearts of late-night diners one slice at a time

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Meet The Pizza Bandit Food Truck, a fixture at Yellow Cab Tavern that specializes in New York style pizza.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Sometimes the tastiest food comes rolling in on wheels.

Food trucks are cooking up delicious dishes across the region, and Dayton can’t seem to get enough.

This week, we introduce a new weekly food truck spotlight to help the community get to know the stories behind some of Dayton’s most beloved food trucks.

First up is The Pizza Bandit, a fixture at the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton.

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Brian Johnson, Mark Jeffers and James Burton (left to right) are the owners of the Pizza Bandit, a New York style pizza truck that can found at the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Name: The Pizza Bandit

When did business begin? September 2019

What is your signature dish and why is it special?

18" Pepperoni Pizza

We're a New York style pizza truck. Our whole pies only come in one size, 18", which is larger than most places’ XL. Then we cut them into six slices and each slice is served with a choice of one of our six signature dips. In classic NY pizza style, our toppings are also limited. We currently only offer cheese or pepperoni on our regular menu. However simple and standard this pie may seem, for us it comes down to the details of premium ingredients, dough stretching technique, and our finishing touches of garlic on the crust and an Italian herb blend sprinkled across the pie.

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Who are the owners?

Brian Johnson, marketing and development

Brian spent 10 years in restaurant management before starting his own marketing and development company focused on food, events, and entertainment. Brian is responsible for all outward facing aspects of the business including social media and marketing, special events, and new menu item creation.

James Burton, kitchen management

James has worked in the back of house for restaurants for the better part of a decade with his most recent position being the Sous Chef for Lily's Bistro before breaking off to start The Pizza Bandit. James is responsible for everything in the kitchen from ordering, managing staff, and ensuring consistency and quality.

James Burton is one of the owners of the Pizza Bandit, a New York style pizza truck that can found at the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Mark Jeffers, financials and physical plant

Mark has been a critical part and partner of The Yellow Cab since its start as a non-profit arts venue to its now for-profit bar and events space for the Dayton community. Mark handles all of the behind-the-scenes work like making sure everyone gets paid, that we're operating profitably, and that all of the equipment on the truck is in working condition.

What is the inspiration behind the name The Pizza Bandit?

The idea that there's this mythical character that you need to keep your pizza safe from is fun. If you follow our social media, you'll see we like to do a lot with the idea that at some level, everyone's a "Pizza Bandit" in the sense of taking a slice from your roommate's pie when not asking, showing up to a pizza party when not invited, or any of the other very casual and harmless ways that "Pizza Banditry" happens.

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The Pizza Bandit is a New York style pizza truck that can found at the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton. LISA POWELL / STAFF

What’s the make and model of your vehicle?

It’s a 1993 Chevy/Grumman truck

Best thing about operating a food truck?

For us, it comes down to the people. Pizza is the original "family style" meal. Watching people come together to enjoy a pie over conversation with friends and family is the cornerstone of what food service is all about. The regulars and new customers we meet who keep coming back week after week and all of the comments, online and in person, are the reason to keep serving and improving our offerings!

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Hardest thing about operating a food truck?

Having limited space is a real challenge. We hear from a lot of customers that they would love for us to expand our offerings but the space just doesn't exist to stock 20 toppings, multiple sizes of pie, or some of the standard offerings many other pizza places offer.

Also, being in a truck means you're generally at the whim of the weather. If it's hot outside, it's hot in the truck. If it's rainy, customers generally stay home. We are fortunate that we have a delivery service setup to offset the onsite business loss when bad weather occurs.

Brian Johnson, Mark Jeffers and James Burton (left to right) are the owners of the Pizza Bandit, a New York style pizza truck that can found at the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Food truck or personal motto?

We have two.

From an operations standpoint, "Consistency and quality are key." It's always so disappointing when you go out one time and have a great meal and then the next time you come back it feels like a totally different experience. We put a lot of training and time into making sure we're offering the same great product every time.

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From a marketing standpoint, "Do you know where your pizza is?" Our name is "The Pizza Bandit" and we have a lot of fun with this Guy Fawkes or Anonymous type marketing that suggests there is this fictional (or maybe not) character that may be lurking around trying to take your tasty pie. It also suggests that your pizza is waiting for you at The Pizza Bandit!

Do you have gluten free/vegetarian/vegan options?

We do offer Vegan cheese and we do offer a 10" personal gluten-free pizza.

The Pizza Bandit is a New York style pizza truck that can found at the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton. The signature dish is an 18-inch pepporoni pizza. LISA POWELL / STAFF

What is the best way people can find you/contact you?

We're generally permanently located at The Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. 4th St. in Dayton.

Hours:

Wednesday – Thursday, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m., Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, noon to midnight and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.

Website: iampizzabandit.com

Email: iamthepizzabandit.com

Phone: (937) 476-1895

Facebook: @iamthepizzabandit/

Instagram: @iamthepizzabandit

The Pizza Bandit is a New York style pizza truck that can found at the Yellow Cab Tavern in Dayton. Apple Bandits are made with applie pie filling, bown sugar and a butter, cinnamon and brown sugar steusel dip. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Can organizations or neighborhoods hire you? What are the details and the cost?

We are not currently available to be hired by neighborhoods but we do offer catering "drop off" for orders of 10 pies or more. People can contact us about catering at: https://www.iampizzabandit.com/catering

Other dishes on your menu.

Our full menu is currently listed at: https://iamthepizzabandit.square.site/

Additionally, every week we offer a special creative pie. In the past we have made crab cake pizza, a taco pie and a Father’s Day pizza made with pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw and barbecue sauce.

We offer carryout, delivery, and onsite dining.

Delivery has a $3 delivery fee and we have a five mile delivery radius.

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