BricknFire Pizza Company Gets a Boost After Appearing on Barstool Sports’ One Bite Pizza Review

| May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

When the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in BricknFire Pizza Company cancelling about 150 events and closing the dining room at its Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards restaurant, owner Megan Lanasa knew she had pivot to keep her business growing and keep her staff in place. She decided to launch a frozen pizza line to supplement sales and keep her 18-person staff making pizzas.

BricknFire also has three pizza trucks, one of which was purchased right before the pandemic hit. While two of the trucks are not getting used right now, one is currently set up four days a week for online orders at The Breadery, a business owned by Lanasa’s parents in Catonsville.

BricknFire’s pizzas are made in an 800 degree oven and the frozen pizzas can be reheated in 8 to 10 minutes in an oven, on a stone, or on a grill. Lansasa said she really likes frozen pizzas as they are super crispy when they are reheated.

In the world of pizza, getting a pie reviewed by Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy on his One Bite Pizza Reviews series can be a serious launching pad for business. His comedic, no holds barred pizza reviews are typically viewed by millions and often featured celebrity guests before social distancing started. If you talk to a pizza shop owner, they’ll likely tell you how they’d love to get reviewed by Portnoy. Federal Hill’s Tinybrickoven even has a backdrop for customers to do their own One Bite Pizza Reviews on their phone.

During the pandemic, Portnoy has shifted to reviewing frozen pizzas from his New York City apartment. Pizza companies have been sending their frozen pizzas hoping they’ll get reviewed or opened on one of his unboxing videos.

Lanasa’s husband Paul Basdekis has been pushing her to send Portnoy a pizza and finally they decided to do it on May 15th. To their surprise, Portnoy opened, cooked, and reviewed the pizza the day he got it. Thinking it would take some time for Portnoy to review it, Lanasa said, “we weren’t ready for it.”

Basdekis wrote a letter telling Lanasa’s story about how she began helping out at The Breadery in elementary school and saved up money waiting tables after college to buy her first pizza trailer pulled from a 1994 Chevy Avalanche. He included how she later won the Marriott competition called Canvas, which led to her location in the Downtown hotel, and how the pandemic led to the launching of the frozen pizza line. Portnoy called it “a great story.”

Portnoy said the pizza was good, “better than most frozen pizza,” and had an “interesting tang to it,” which Lanasa said comes from her four cheese blend of fontina, asiago, white cheddar, and mozzarella cheese. Portnoy, who rarely gives a score over 9, gave it a 7.1.

Lanasa said the review crashed her website within 20 minutes of it being posted and led to a “crazy week” of local deliveries. BricknFire wasn’t yet set up for national deliveries, but was able to recently get that going.

Lanasa said she was going to be happy with anything over a 7 and said Portnoy was “very kind” as he spoke multiple times about loving her story. Lanasa did say she wished they would’ve sent a margherita pizza, which just has mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, as that may have been more in Portnoy’s wheelhouse of loving simple cheese pizzas. She said they might still send him one.

The One Bite review of BricknFire has now been viewed more than 1,080,000 times between YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the One Bite app.

BricknFire sells its frozen pizzas individually for $11 for cheese or margherita or $12 for pepperoni. Customers receive $1 off for each pizza if they buy a case of 10. From the website customers can buy half cases and mix and match pizza styles as they choose. BricknFire’s staff offers non-contact delivery of the frozen pies on Tuesdays and Thursdays for much of Maryland and Aldie, Virginia. Nationwide deliveries are packaged with dry ice.

The frozen pizzas are also sold at a couple stores in Sykesville and Westminster in Maryland.

The Marriott location is still open for carryout and partners with three delivery apps. Lanasa said the lunch shifts have been slower than usual, but evening business has been busy with deliveries. She noted that business the location was on pace to increase by 20% but is now down by about 30%.

BricknFire’s staff has been coming in earlier to bake and box the frozen pizzas and it has given them something to work on during a slower lunch.

Lanasa said making frozen pizzas is very efficient, but required a lot of learning as shipping is “a whole new ballgame.” As things return to normal, Lanasa looks forward to combining the frozen pizza business with the return of events and a busy dining room at her Downtown BricknFire location. She said they’ll likely keep operating at The Breadery through the summer and said she may look to add a new brick-and-mortar location in the future.

With all the changes in 2020, Lanasa said they have not only been able to keep their staff, but they have been able to add new team member. She said overall sales will likely net out to about the same as last year.

One Bite Review (Warning: Vulgar language used)

Photo of a BricknFire pie

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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