• Thomas Walko

exit4pizza Introduces Alex Burns: A Jack of All Pizza Trades

Alex Burns Picture
True story: Alex's pizzas look as Hollywood as he does in this picture we swiped off his Facebook.

We're excited to feature one of our drivers/cooks/prep professionals into today's blog. Alex Burns brings plenty of hard work and ingenuity into our kitchen, and he keeps exit4pizza humming along. We sat down with Alex to talk drone delivery, pizza creation, and more at Pittsburgh's best pizza shop.

So, Alex, where are you from?

I'm from Shaler, and now I live on Friday Road down the street from the shop.

And how long have you been at exit4pizza?

Oh, man, time flies. It's coming close to four months already.

What are some of the roles you hold now?

I've done everything except close the restaurant.

And you're looking into going back to school soon, right?

I'm going to go attend CCAC for robotics.

I'm glad you mentioned that, because there's been some talk around here about drone delivery.

Tom (the co-owner) and I have talked about having these "hot spots." We get a drone that can deliver up to 30 pounds, and we get some Mini Coopers — or any kind of car — and we get the exit4pizza logo on them, and then we put a landing pad on the back. Then we send out a mass text that says, "There's a pizza hot spot in your area. Would you like a drone delivery?" You hit "Yes," and then the drone takes off. Once the drone is in sight, you confirm that you see it, and then the drone drops off your pizza.

What's the biggest challenge to making that a reality?

We'll have aerial platforms carrying 20 pounds over populated areas. That means there will be some legal issues we'll have to navigate.

All this talk about pizza delivery is getting me hungry. Let's talk about the menu. What's the best thing on it?

I tell people this all the time: We make good hoagies. We make good appetizers. But we're all about the pizza. So much thought goes into every pizza. We're like Pittsburgh and its craft beers.

OK, so what about a specific pizza? What's best?

The Bianca. Well, I like a cross between the Fresco and the Bianca. I like the Fresco base with the green sauce, basil, and tomato, and then I add the roasted garlic from the Bianca. Then I add a cheese blend of Parmesan and Asiago.

You like to experiment in the kitchen, and you even brought in waffle pizzas. How'd you come up with that?

One night my girlfriend and I were hanging out, and she wanted pizza and I wanted waffles. So, we decided to compromise. I walked down to the shop for the first time and asked to buy the ingredients (dough and pepperoni), and Tom sold them to me, but he also asked if I wanted a job since they really needed delivery drivers.

We love getting two stories in one. How long until waffle pizzas are a regular item on the menu?

We have to wait until we have the resources to mass produce them safely and efficiently.

How else have you left your mark in the kitchen?

We have a blue folder that we've all added pizza ideas to. And I've also contributed to how we make our pizzas. I made a few recommendations to our cheese blend for our white pizzas that created a new standard. It makes the pizza look and taste better.

Everything in the kitchen is constantly changing because we're always perfecting and adjusting. But Tom also keeps detailed records of everything, so if someone comes in and says, "I really liked the way you did X two months ago," we can make it exactly the way they had it before.

Delivery drivers often get some exciting stories. Anything strange ever happen on a pizza run?

I've gotten people who either don't have enough money to pay, or they'll hand me $100 for a $15 order, and then they'll ask me to run the $100 bill to the store down the street and get change for them.

People have literally given me an entire bag of quarters to pay for a $40 order.

Last prompt: Tell us about the first pizza you ever had exit4pizza.

It was the Fresco, with the green sauce. Tom was like, "You need to try this green sauce! You know what? We'll just make you a Fresco." It's now my favorite one to make because of my OCD. I love putting the sauce on.

Actually, my OCD is both a blessing and a curse. I love making perfect pizzas, so my pizzas look really great when they're done. But I always feel like it takes me too long to make them. (Editor's note: Alex might make them a little slower than your average pizza maker, but it never impacts delivery speed!) During a rush, I get flustered because I can't give each pizza the attention I want to give it.

Want to taste one of Alex's beautiful, hand-crafted creations? Check our our menu, or head directly to our online ordering portal. You can have some of Pittsburgh's best pizza delivered in Etna and the surrounding communities.

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