Christian Bowers

Founder and Owner of Bola Pizza

Founder and Owner of Austin Food Journal

Founder of Coupralux


The history of Bola Pizza starts with the Austin Food Journal, ( )
which, in it’s time was one of the most widely read food websites in Austin. The site was
originally started to share pictures with my family of what I was cooking. It expanded into
restaurant and cookbook reviews, Happy Hour calendars and Farmers Market reports. And, as
always, the chronicling of my home cooking adventures.

I like to get hooked on a single food item and fully explore it. First it was pasta, then I fell down a
pizza rabbit hole. The wood fired pizza craze was just getting started. My heros were Anthoney
Molinari of Una Pizza Napoletana in New York and Chris Bianco of Pizza Bianco in Phoenix. I
scoured the web for news, pictures and videos of them and their work. I quickly learned that
although a wood burning oven was necessary, the real key was the dough. Sourdough starters
were the rage, but reading what Chad Robertson at Tartine in San Francisco was doing with
cold fermenting captured my attention. I first noticed Chad on the cover of another book, The
Bread Builders, which outlined how to build your own backyard wood burning oven. After three
years of experimenting with dough recipes, I landed on the recipe that would work best. All the
pieces were in place.

In an attempt to cultivate more relationships in the food community, the Austin Food Journal
started hosting instructional pizza classes and social pizza parties at my house. The Serious
Pizza Classes would sell out and the Tuesday Pizza Night’s were a hit. On a Tuesday evening,
fifty to sixty guests would show up with their favorite beverages and I would cook made to order
pizzas. Some guests asked if I would be interested in throwing pizza parties at their house.
I spoke with a company in the Bay Area, Forno Bravo, who imports wood burning pizza ovens
from Italy. They agreed to give me a discount if I posted on the Austin Food Journal about
building a backyard pizza oven. The only problem? I didn’t have any money. My fifteen year
career in Graphic Arts came to an abrupt end with the financial crisis of 2008. The only thing I
had left was a fancy watch that I never wore, so I sold it.

The idea of starting a catering company with a mobile wood fired oven seemed like a risky bet.
Through connections with the Austin Food Journal I secured a meeting with the founder of the
best known catering company in Austin, Word of Mouth Catering. I started our conversation by
saying “Tell me why I should not do this”, then proceeded to tell her my plan. She loved the idea
and encouraged me to move forward. The next day I ordered the oven.
The business needed a name and an identity. My Graphic Arts background came in handy to
create the logo, website, photography and packaging. Our dog Bola name sounded slightly
Italian. I registered the DBA and built a website.

My father drove into town to help me build the oven on my newly purchased utility trailer. The
oven came in sections that were stuccoed together, then insulated, then stoccoed again. A two
week long curing process required me to light daily fires, growing in intensity, to cure the oven
and insure the structure would not crack. The chronicling of the build drew attention and we
were invited to cook pizza at an annual food festival which led to an invitation to sell our product
at the Austin Farmer’s Markets. Catering requests soon followed.

I was approached by a regular at the Saturday Farmers market and asked if I had ever thought
about selling a frozen pizza. I had not, but then ran a few tests freezing our products and
realized we could. Soon, Farmhouse Delivery was making and selling Bola Frozen Pizza all
over Austin, followed by many of the small corner stores and local grocers. My father, who was
then working at Central Market in Southlake, Tx, gave our pizza to the corporate buyer. She
called 24 hours later and set a date to distribute to all nine Central Markets in Texas.
A larger commercial kitchen space was needed. Local baker Austin Cake Ball, tipped me off
that they had just vacated a kitchen in my neighborhood. My grandmother loaned us the money
needed for the deposit and I signed the lease. I structured the space for other food business to
share the space and the kitchen began paying for itself. The business began making enough
money so that my wife could leave her job and started working full time at Bola Pizza. She
started our demo program handing out our pizza at Central Markets throughout Texas. I
designed a demo station and found a high powered toaster oven so she could cook right in the
freezer aisle.

Up until this point, every pizza made at Bola Pizza was handmade by me, but that needed to
change. Using specialized tools and a wood fired oven was not the economical path forward. I
located an Italian conveyor oven that could simulate a wood fired oven, set up a system of
screens and rolling racks, and documented all of my procedures and recipes. I hired a staff and
we were now scalable. To say this all the work put in up until now was massive would be an
understatement. But it was finally paying off and I was free to focus again on new product and
customer development.





Full service print and web production. I am based in Austin, TX and service clients throughout the country using multiple computer platforms
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