Bob Currier built his business this way: First, the oven. Next, the pizza to get the customers. Last, the building.
The Rolling Tomato opened inside the Bridge Market in Groton a month ago, but much of the business still runs as it began - out of trailers.
“My thought was build the product, create the following, then get the place,” said Currier, who lives in Montville.
Currier owned Babe’s Country Deli at Salem Four Corners before going into the pizza business. He wanted his own pizza shop, but money was an obstacle, so he started slowly.
He ordered a wood-fired oven from Italy in November 2010, waited six weeks for it to be shipped on a boat, then built it on a utility trailer.
In April 2011, he went to his first event – an open house at a marina - and started selling. Then he kept going, from place to place, serving at farmer’s markets, events, and private functions.
He met , during the fireworks at Fort Griswold in Groton. The two had vending spots next to each other. Dole was running Buford’s Family Restaurant at the time.
Currier said they traded leads about future events, "then she told me she was buying a market." She asked if he'd like to have a space there, and he decided he would. It came together within a year.
Marc Paradis became a partner in the Rolling Tomato about two months ago. His grandparents once ran Square Deal Grocery on Warner Street in Groton, from the Depression until about 1975.
He owns a commercial construction company that specializes in restaurant construction, and he met Currier because his company was upstairs from the deli in Salem.
Currier is a dog lover, so he's named the pizzas on his menu after dogs he's known.
Odie Baron (pizza with spinach, olives, tomato and artichoke hearts) is named for a dog whose owner's a vegetarian; Ivory Coast (pizza with ricotta, gorgonzola and romano) is named after his mother’s white German Shepherd; Balmer Mountain (pizza with BBQ chicken, bacon and caramelized red onion) is named after Balmer, his Bernese Mountain Dog.
The pizza business also has a location in Norwich, which opened about a year ago. Paradis said the company plans to open 20 locations next year.
"Word of mouth is our greatest advertising," he said.