Boat and pizza lovers Sasha and Tara Bouis have transformed an abandoned aluminum sailboat into a floating pizzeria. Dubbed "Pizza Pi," the enterprising couple customized and hand built the boat's kitchen to accommodate commercial pizza ovens, fridges, bench space and storage, while also creating a special pick-up window for local boats to come and get their pizza. Located in Christmas Cove, Virgin Islands, Pizza Pi brings the concept of street food to the water, providing a convenient stop for tourists and boat enthusiasts who are out on the water all day.
"We worked on private charter yachts in the Virgin Islands for a number of years and always remarked that a pizza boat could do really well in some of the more secluded coves, especially where there are no on shore dining options," Sasha and Tara Bouis tells Gizmag. "We tried to talk a few friends into building one, but no one bit. So, we decided to do it ourselves."
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The couple purchased the 37 ft (11.3 m) G.L. Watson-designed aluminum sailing/motor boat, which had previously been abandoned for 10 years and most of the wooden interior had been eaten away by termites.
"Finding the right boat was a hard one," says Sasha and Tara. "We wanted a service window so the boat had to be a certain shape/size. We wanted the boat to be capable of traveling long distances (because we didn't know where we'd open up shop) so it had to be well built. We knew we would have to customize the interior so we didn't want a boat with a finished interior. We had a fairly small budget so we didn't want to pay too much for the hull. We looked for about three years before we found her. When we saw our boat I think we both mumbled 'Shit. Now we have to do it.'"
After taking ownership of the sailboat, the couple re-built the vessel's complete interior by hand, making sure it would suit their commercial needs. The complete process took them two years to finish, both quitting their full-time charter jobs in the process. "Building was tougher than tough," they admit. "It was a long lesson in building character. There were many times that we didn't think we'd finish. There were other days that we enjoyed building so much that we didn't want it to end."
The now complete galley measures 12 ft wide by 16 ft long (3.66 x 4.88 m) and is equipped with a 22 quart Hobart mixer for dough making, 8 sq ft (0.75 sq m) chest freezer, custom built 22 sq ft (2.04 sq m) fridge and a Baker's Pride counter top Pizza Oven that cooks four pizzas at a time. In addition there is a large wash station, register area and dinghy pick-up window.
"It's small, but packed with efficiency," the Bouis quip. "The galley is built in zones so that two to three people can work comfortably in the space."
Since launching their floating Pizza Pi business in late November 2014, the couple plan to sell as many pizzas as they can in order to test the waters for future floating cafes or similar food boats.
"We want to prove that this is a sustainable business model," they say. "Next step is to talk some more dreamers into opening other food boats in the area so that we can help build the local marine tourism. Beyond that? No idea. We are so happy to be where we are that we haven't planned too far into the future."
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