- Joined: 11/16/2003
Pizza delivery via airplane
Tue, 04/11/06 10:33 AM
Now I like all of the "strange" toppings. But I have to admit if I had to have it flown in, I would order a bit more traditional then these people.
Alaskans get their pizzas by air
NOME, Alaska (AP) -- Last Christmas, residents of the Yupik Eskimo village of Savoonga added a special dish to their everyday fare of whale, walrus, reindeer and berries -- fresh pizza flown in from Nome, 170 miles away.
A tiny delivery joint, Airport Pizza, opened several months earlier just steps from Nome's busy runways, and many of Savoonga's 700 residents were eager to try something different.
Nome's first and only pizza delivery service does a robust business in the western Alaska town of 3,500. But it really stands out for its free deliveries via commuter plane to more than a dozen other remote, spread-out subarctic villages.
The village council in Savoonga, on St. Lawrence Island in the icy Bering Sea, wanted a special holiday treat for young families in the village. It ordered 50 pizzas, half topped with chicken and ranch dressing and the other half with Canadian bacon and pineapple.[/Frontier Flying Service, an intrastate airline, volunteered last year to fly the pizzas at no charge to every village on its regular flight schedule out of Nome, a Bering Sea town settled in 1899 during a gold rush.
Craig Kenmonth, general manager of Frontier, said the free delivery service helps the carrier market itself in a way that benefits customers in the largely Yupik and Inupiat Eskimo villages.
"Our success is directly tied to the success of the communities we serve," Kenmonth said. "And it's a fun thing to do."
The savings can be enormous for Nome's largely impoverished satellite communities, which pay some of the highest fuel prices in America.
"They fly the pizzas for nothing, which is huge for people out in the villages," said Matt Tomter, who quit his Frontier flying job to run the thriving pizza joint.
Tomter said an order for six reindeer sausage pizzas once came in from the Arctic Ocean town of Barrow, the northernmost community in the United States, 500 miles (805 kilometers) to the northeast.
High shipping costs into Nome push Airport Pizza's prices above those charged by pizzerias in less remote spots. They range from $16 for a small cheese pizza to $32 for a large specialty pie, such as chicken Rockefeller or gyro.
The one-room business is all kitchen, with a dough mixer salvaged from a bakery that went out of business, and a cavernous hand-me-down oven from a pizzeria turned Chinese restaurant.
Along a spotless steel counter in the pizza kitchen sit about two dozen small bins filled with colorful ingredients that are rare in this faraway region -- garlic, red and green peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and chorizo.
Five staffers show up each day to make more than 30 types of pizzas, including Polynesian barbeque chicken, Mexican enchilada, and Mediterranean.
Nearly all the 11,000 village residents in Airport Pizza's service area consume Alaska Native subsistence foods, such as whale, walrus, seal and caribou, but laws bar Airport Pizza from using native meats -- other than reindeer -- on its pizzas, and there doesn't seem to be much demand.
"I think that would be a little strange," Savoonga Mayor Jane Kava said.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed