Pizzeria Fills Alaska's Skies with Pies to Go

Airport Pizza in Nome, Alaska, runs quite a delivery operation. Owner Matt Tomter flies his pies hundreds of miles for delivery to remote areas. The most popular pizza is made with reindeer meat, feta cheese and red peppers. Tomter tells Scott Simon how the business works.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

In these times, pizza delivery is just about as American as apple pie. Now you can even get it in remote outposts of Alaska. A company called Airport Pizza has fired up its ovens in Nome and started flying fresh pizza pies to places upwards of a hundred miles away at no extra charge. Matt Tomter is the founding manager.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Mr. MATT TOMTER (Founder, Airport Pizza): Oh, thank you. I'm glad to be here.

SIMON: You have a slogan, I understand.

Mr. TOMTER: It's you buy, we fly.

SIMON: How many pizzas a day do you deliver to remote locations?

Mr. TOMTER: We fly anywhere from one to about 30 a day.

SIMON: And how far away will you fly them?

Mr. TOMTER: Well, we've sent them up to Barrow. We've sent them to Fairbanks. You know, just Frontier basically flies everywhere in the state. And so we haven't got to some parts of the state, but just all over the place. And there's about 14 villages in the area here that get pizza on a regular basis.

SIMON: And is it as simple as someone can just pick up the phone and say, hi, I'm in Barrow, make me one with everything?

Mr. TOMTER: Oh, yeah. We've got an 800 number. We've got an Internet site with our menu on it, and just look up the pizza you want, gives us a call, and the pizza is on the next flight.

SIMON: Now, you keep mentioning the Frontier Flying Service.

Mr. TOMTER: Right. Well, Frontier, actually - we don't actually have airplanes at our pizza place. Talk about go out of business quick plan, that would be a - you'd have to charge so much for a pizza. No. Frontier Flying Service is a carrier here in Nome and throughout the state that has agreed to fly our pizzas at no charge to all the rural locations where they fly. And so it's been just a great service through them to the communities. They're as much of it as we are.

SIMON: How do you keep them hot, or do you?

Mr. TOMTER: Well, you know, it just depends. We - sometimes we'll send them out in hot bags that are heated. Most of the time, we cook them some - about three-quarters of the way, get them out to the village and then they'll finish them at their house, or at the school, or wherever they might be going.

SIMON: I understand there's a particular regional specialty on your menu too.

Mr. TOMTER: Oh, yeah. We do, I think, probably the most popular pizza out here is the reindeer pizza, which we do. It's made with, you know, locally herded reindeer or locally grown reindeer. And yeah, it's reindeer and feta cheese, red peppers; it's a good combo.

SIMON: Reindeer and feta cheese. I - you know, I must say first time I've heard that - those words in combination.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: So do they shout in the kitchen, Give me, you know, give me an antler and feta to go?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. TOMTER: Well, that's a funny story. You know, we actually had pizzas ordered. A Tokyo radio station had called because they heard about it, and wanted to order reindeer, because they'd heard that reindeer was an aphrodisiac and we'd said, you know, I don't know about that, but everyone out here is eating it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well, we'll just see in future generations how much of an aphrodisiac it was.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well, Mr. Tomter, thanks very much for speaking with us.

Mr. TOMTER: Okay, you guys, well, take care. And you know, don't feel free - feel free to call up and order pizza anytime. We'll figure out a way to get it to you.

SIMON: Matt Tomter of Airport Pizza in Nome, Alaska. And this is NPR News.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: