It's not surprising that with a name like Hashtag Pizza, the owners of Venice's newest food truck want be trending in their customers' minds.
"We love our Venice locals," says Hashtag Pizza co-owner Jennifer Stevens. "We're mobile, but our mission is to turn Hashtag Pizza into a destination, the same as a brick-and-mortar."
Stevens owns Hashtag Pizza with Alexis Armstrong and Jessica Robison, and the trio's not just a business team—they are lesbians and polyamorous, as well. Starting Hashtag Pizza had been a longtime goal for the women, who started working on the business by paying $10,000 for a used church bus last year. Armstrong, a former welder, was able to pull the bus apart, turning it into a fully operational food truck, complete with a stove oven. Hashtag Pizza officially opened on Nov. 22, 2018.
That oven, Stevens says, is integral to what separates Hashtag Pizza's offerings from other food trucks. "A lot of pizza food trucks will use either a wood oven, or an electric one," Stevens says. "The problem is that a wood oven means that the pizza isn't good for very long, and an electric oven creates a cheap pizza quality. Nobody else is doing it the way we are."
Armstrong and Stevens both grew up around their grandfathers' pizzerias; Hashtag Pizza's pie combines their respective recipes Chicago-style and Long Island-style dough. The menu offers six different 10-, 12- or 18-inch pizzas, including a build-your-own option. The White, a blend of ricotta, mozzarella and Asiago white cheddar, and the Gyro Pizza, with gyro meat, lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce, are best sellers. And the 20-inch Hashtag Giant Slice always steals the show.
"When you go to a food truck, there's always one novelty item," Stevens says. "The 20-inch slice is a crowd pleaser."
If Hashtag Pizza's success at last week's Harvey Milk Festival is any indication, Stevens, Armstrong and Robison are on to something big.
"Our sales have tripled, and we're getting regulars constantly," Stevens says. "I haven't seen a single bad review."
Hashtag Pizza is already gearing up for an appearance in October at the Heart of Sarasota Festival. Until then, the truck will be in its regular spot at U.S. 41 and Shamrock Boulevard in Venice. It's worth seeking out.
Hashtag Pizza is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m, and is located at the corner of Shamrock Boulevard and U.S. 41. The company also delivers; call (941) 483-0941 for more info and to order.