Greg Tonks – Stoked Pizza

With a talent for making pizzas, Greg’s business story started 10 years ago when he began selling his delicious woodfired pizzas from his van…

In fact, Greg was one of the first mobile pizzerias in the UK equipped with a stone-based oven. His authentic style was a hit, and he was making customers happy at weddings, festivals and seafronts across the south of England. 

His van continued to be a success but eventually Greg decided it was time to take his pizzas off-road and try something new. He began reflecting on food industry trends and started to look for a gap in the market.

“The food industry has changed a lot in recent years. The demand for high-quality food made to order and delivered to your home has risen dramatically. I decided I wanted a new challenge and began thinking about the business models that would excel in today’s world and be more resilient in the future.

I started thinking about the advantages of running a ‘dark kitchen’ – a new disruptor business model that’s highly efficient and optimised for delivery. It operates without a storefront and does not require any front-of-house staff. Customers order their pizzas using an app or website, the food is prepared and then is delivered via well-known third-party services like Deliveroo and Just Eat.

Not requiring high street locations with seating or waiting areas lowers the cost of rent and you also avoid needing to hire lots of serving staff, which reduces your overheads.”

What Greg did need was equipment and the technology to support his digital infrastructure. He successfully applied for a business grant from Outset Start and Grow and he used it to buy new kitchen equipment including an industrial-sized fridge and freezer and a whippy ice cream machine to make the milkshakes. He also purchased new laptops to receive the food orders and is recruiting for two chefs to help him in the kitchen. 

Greg said the grant was a huge boost to his business.

“Being able to receive £20,000 grant for a start-up business is fantastic and it’s helped me generate more money. I’ve been able to buy what I need and bring it into the business on day one, rather than wait until funds allow and grow the business more gradually.”

Stoked Pizza has only been open a few weeks, but Greg has big plans to franchise it.

“We’d make everything fresh in my kitchen in Portsmouth and deliver it to franchisees who then cook and sell the meals to their customers. They would use our technology, branding and need access to an oven to cook the pizzas to perfection. It’s more revenue for me and for the franchisee it’s a way of adding tasty pizzas to their offering without incurring huge costs.”

Follow Greg’s progress and look at his menu:

Find out more about how Outset Start and Grow can support your business to get off the ground or reach the next level.