A Q&A with Kenneth MacFawn, co-owner, Rad Pies, Williamsport, Maryland
Rad Pies is a punk rock pizza shop that pushes the limits of pizza everyday. We have a super positive working environment with a goal of making sure our customers receive the best food possible every time they visit us.
Rad Pies’ radical pizzas are two very different styles: Detroit pan and a more traditional, Neo-Neapolitan pie. Let’s start off with Detroit. It’s incredibly light, airy and crispy. The reason? The dough. It’s a 100% hydrated dough made out of a high-gluten, 00 flour. The yeast is extremely minimal and once it goes through its 24 hours of fermentation at room temp, it’s ready to par bake. Our Detroits are 8×10 inches. Now, onto the Neo-Neopolitan pies. These are using the same flour as above, but the fermentation and hydration are much different. These 62% hydration doughs go through a minimum of 48 hours of cold fermentation. However, most of the time, it’s more like 72-96 hours. These are all 12” whole pies. We like to push the limit of pizza. There’s no topping that is off limit. We encourage our staff to be creative and constantly push for new, innovative pies.
What’s the biggest challenge you are facing in the business right now and how are you addressing it?
Labor. It’s an interesting time because of course there’s a labor shortage right now, but at the same time, there’s a lot of new equipment and technology such as conveyor ovens, dough dividers and ballers and even POS systems with kiosks. Everyone in our industry has an opportunity to reinvent our processes by utilizing these new advancements. For us, it’s allowed us to have consistency and efficiency in products and processes, which gives us the ability to invest more in our employees providing quality hours and wages.
How have you been able to capitalize on IPC wins in your market?
When we returned from Vegas, demand was so high, we ran out of pizza dough at both locations for a month. We’ve also been able to hire top talent and are currently in the process of opening our 2nd Rad Pies location and building out a custom food trailer. We will be doing pop-ups and catering, allowing us to introduce Rad Pies to more people in our state and beyond.
In Vegas we also won some other awards; 3rd place in sandwich, 11th in pan, and we also won the whole Northeast in non-traditional round pizza (beating everyone in NYC, yeah that’s right!). Our whole menu has taken off, especially our sandwiches, served on our house made baguettes.
What has been key for you to perform well at the International Pizza Challenge?
Constantly checking the market. Too often you can get stuck in your same four walls and not see for yourself what everyone else is doing. For us it is necessary to meet and try as much pizza as possible. That definitely helped us gain confidence in the product we are putting out.
We like your style. Tell us about your branding.
We are looking for something a little more punk rock, and edgy. We grew up in the 80’s and have always liked the freedom and nonsense of that era. We also try to be as ridiculous as possible at all times while also maintaining the highest work ethic and standards for our food.