A pizza businesses that launched just before the pandemic managed to survive by coming up with an ingenious way to get fresh pizzas to people’s homes.
Tom Capell launched Surf and Slice in 2019, just months before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
A former quality controller at Jaguar Land Rover, it was his dream to open a mobile wood-fired pizza businesses.
And he got off to a good start, operating at Cannon Park Shopping Centre and taking private bookings.
But his market dried up in lockdown so Tom came up with a novel way of getting his product to customers, launching DIY pizza kits.
Now that restrictions have been lifted, he is once again taking his mobile oven on the road.
And you can grab a slice at the Criterion Theatre on Thursdays, Dhillons Brewery on Fridays and Saturdays and, this Saturday only at Covtoberfest at Castle Yard Taprooms.
“Bringing the true taste of Naples to Coventry”
Tom had no experience in running a business when he started up and the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce helped him with many of the details, including setting up a business bank account, managing his finances and cash flow.
He also received advice and mentoring from the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Fund, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
He said: “We were doing quite well to begin with but when the crisis started, there were no customers for me to serve. Everyone was at home.
“I came up with my own DIY pizza kits including all the ingredients and recipes that I delivered all over the region. All in all, I delivered around 2,000 kits throughout the crisis and that kept the business going.
“As lockdown has eased, I’ve got pitches at Dhillons Brewery, in Longford, and one at The Criterion Theatre, in Earlsdon, where I am back out serving customers again.
“I’ve got a real focus on quality and making pizzas the right way so I am bringing the true taste of Naples to the people of Coventry. I tend to have five different pizzas on the menu at any one time including some unique base toppings such as pumpkin or truffle.
“I can see real potential in the events sector once that is back up and running and, eventually, would like my own outlet – possibly in Coventry city centre.”
He added: “The Chamber has been great. They were recommended to me when I was first starting out and the support has been invaluable.
“I’ve always had an interest in catering and knew I wanted to focus on quality when it came to the pizzas we offered but in every other aspect of business I am still learning.
“I’d ask questions that probably seemed really basic but my adviser would just talk me through everything. For example, at the start I was doing all my business through my personal bank account but they guided me through setting up a business account which was something I’d never done before.
“That kind of advice meant I could focus on the quality of food I was serving knowing that I had expert support helping me in other ways.”
Chamber is “here to help”
Keely Hancox, of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Surf and Slice is a great example of a new business with a strong idea of what they would like to do but need help on the other side of business.
“People can be put off establishing a business because they don’t know to get started on some of those financial and administrative tasks. Our advisers are here to help as well as being a sounding board for ideas.”