For nearly nine years, Pizzeria Caldera has brought a taste of Italy to Jackson Hole with its thin-crust, Napoletana-style pizzas. Now, said Chris Hansen, who owns the pizzeria with his wife, Miga Rossetti, the country can get a taste of Jackson Hole as Caldera launches a frozen pizza business under the name Jackson Hole Free Range Pizza.
The idea had been brewing for a while.
“About six years ago I received a call from a woman who asked if I could send her some pizzas,” said Hansen.
She and her husband ate at Caldera one summer and he swore it was the best pizza he’d ever had.
“We par-baked, froze, wrapped and shipped them with dry ice,” said Hansen. “We’ve been shipping pizzas to family and friends ever since.”
That got Hansen thinking about the possibilities of the frozen pizza business. But other things came up and he put it off.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic. Like many restaurants in Jackson and across the country, Pizzeria Caldera first closed its dining room and then closed completely for April.
While in the throes of managing the crisis, the couple learned the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services offered grants to help businesses keep employees working and off unemployment during the shutdown. Recognizing an opportunity, they applied for and received a grant. They purchased a new freezer, shrink-wrap machine and shipping supplies and rebuilt their website with Shopify. They immediately started selling frozen pizzas online and shipping them nationwide.
Sales from Jackson Hole Free Range Pizza may potentially smooth out the off-season dips and provide a safety net should there be another shutdown. Frozen pies are sold in packs of three and four and shipped free nationwide. They’ve also been accepted by the online food distribution site Goldbelly.
Local customers can buy frozen pizzas just like they do fresh ones: at the counter, by phone or online. Frozen pies will soon be available at Aspens and Pearl Street markets.
“We’ve also pledged to donate 10 frozen pizzas to Hole Food Rescue for every 100 frozen pies we sell,” Hansen said.
As of early July, Jackson Hole Free Range Pizza had donated 60 frozen pizzas since May 1.