Hot Rock Pizza to heat up Pioneer

Reid Schwartz and his family pictured in Hot Rock Pizza’s new location in the Old Town Mall in the location that was formerly Cameron’s Cafe. Known for their wood-fire lunch trucks

Reid Schwartz says he has a serious pizza issue.

He loves good pizza, and he’s on a mission to create it.

Having just announced his new brick-and-mortar location inside the Old Town Mall, where Cameron’s Cafe was formerly located, Schwartz said he’s ready to bring that great pizza to Oak Harbor year-round.

“This is a big move for our team, one we have been planning to make for several years,” Schwartz said. “We discovered a great opportunity on Pioneer Way and cannot wait to be able to make some amazing pizza for our customers each and every day.”

For the past five years, Hot Rock Pizza has been a mainstay at farmers markets, festivals and private parties as a wood-fired food truck.

Now, Schwartz and his family can make their “pizza issue” a full-time job.

While the pizza place was originally planning on moving into the Angelo’s location, Schwartz said he got lucky when the Cameron’s location popped up.

Eateries have struggled in recent years on Pioneer Way, but Schwartz said he believes that his business model is strong enough to buck the trend.

“We have a really big following,” Schwartz said.

Also, he said his philosophy will be contagious to pizza lovers.

“Eating good food, made with high quality, natural ingredients, in moderation, and you will enjoy a long and healthy life,” said Schwartz.

They make their pizza “old school.”

The dough takes 24-48 hours to rise using the delayed fermentation process. This process causes the yeast to work slowly in cool temperatures, helping the dough develop more character and flavor, Schwartz said.

Hot Rock also takes special care with its homemade garlic tomato sauce, made with fresh tomatoes, lots of garlic and a few other special ingredients.

The main difference between the two operations will be that while the food trucks will remain wood-fired, the indoor brick-and-mortar operation will use gas-powered brick ovens.

Schwartz said that food is an essential part of who people are.

“Too often we make food into something that we just have to eat as we rush through life,” Scwhartz said. “I believe that to be a mistake; the old adage ‘You are what you eat’ turns out to be more truth than fiction.”

In 1985, he met his wife, Christy, when she was working at the Straw Hat Pizza Parlor in Gardena, Calif. They moved to Whidbey Island 19 years ago.

Twenty-eight years after they met, pizza is still an important part of their lives.

Schwartz said since they are new, they are being very active with their marketing. This includes continuing work with events like the Oak Harbor Music Festival and Holland Happening.

He also likes to give back by supporting nonprofits and organizations such as Relay for Life and Youth Dynamics.

Other projects include teaching pizza throwing and mozzarella pulling classes to youth.

“It’s really important,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said his family has taken pizza “to a whole new level” and are looking forward taking it a step further in their new location.

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