Mobile Plans

For Seth and Laura, Veraci Pizza (Spokane) is the story of the little cart that could… and still does.

“I thought he was crazy.”

At first, Laura Carey wasn’t so sure about her then-boyfriend Seth’s idea of starting his own Neapolitan mobile pizza cart. And who could blame her? The hours, the risk, the uncertainty. But Seth’s stint working at Veraci Pizza in Seattle had given him the experience and vision he needed to give it a run here in Spokane. What Laura didn’t know was that the shared experience of launching the business would bring them closer together than ever, eventually leading to their marriage.

Sitting down for coffee at Indaba with Seth and Laura, they tell the story of when they decided to take the plunge.

In 2008, Veraci Spokane was born, a one-of-a-kind treat for the Lilac City: a hand-built clay oven cart featuring nearly 1000 degrees of flaming applewood. From the day it began churning out artisan, Neapolitan-style, thin-crust pies with that perfect amount of char, they’ve enjoyed a faithful (if small, at first) following.

“We were very confident from the start,” says Seth. “But those early days are a blur: so many hours spent shopping, prepping, transporting, cleaning, planning... let alone just operating the thing. Learning the processes of how to get everything just right, so we could really make an impact offering Spokane this style of pizza for the first time.”

With a laugh, Seth recalls some very early mornings with “Sleepy Pete” (friend Peter Froese), beginning another 12-hour work day prepping the cart and ingredients to sell at an Inland Northwest farmer’s market. The two look back on the bouts with heat stroke, as they learned just how important it is to keep from keeling over while working the oven on a summer day.

They also remember the time they worked a farmers’ market during the day, got married at Bowl & Pitcher in the evening, and then celebrated into the night with a salmon feast—prepared on the oven cart, of course.

Today, just blocks from where we sip coffee, Seth and Laura’s brick and mortar location is already filling up with early lunch tables, and serving Kendall Yards locals who drop by for a quick slice. With the in-house clay oven swirling aromas around the large modern space, the cooler full of kegs pumping out northwest craft beers, and diners taking breathtaking views of the Spokane River gorge, it would be easy to forget about those early days.

But make no mistake: this is the house that little cart built—their customers encouraged (even demanded) the permanent location. Launched in July 2014 just months after Laura gave birth to one of their three children, Veraci’s full-scale restaurant venture definitely provided another difficult season of learning, hard work, adjustments, and growth. As Laura and Seth look at one another and remember, they share an unapologetic pun: it was a trial by fire.  

Photo of Veraci Spokane's Pizza Cart by Eric Doxey.

Photo of Veraci Spokane's Pizza Cart by Eric Doxey.

As Kendall Yards continues to grow, and residences and businesses pop up all around Veraci’s location and they get busier, they haven’t let go of their roots. In fact, the business now operates two mobile pizza ovens: one for Washington; one for North Idaho. You’ll see them at the region’s outdoor markets, but they’ve also become a popular catering go-to for corporate events, weddings, grad parties, and even holiday parties. In the winter, that heat of that oven on the cart is actually appreciated by workers who sling pies in freezing temperatures.  

A full partner in the business, Laura has certainly come around: she no longer thinks this pizza dream is so crazy. For the Carey family and their team, through hard work and listening to their customers, this Veraci experiment is a story that continues to unfold and grow, connecting them to their community as they try to continue providing excellence.

Whether you go to them or they come to you, if you find yourself in Spokane, don’t miss the chance to enjoy Veraci’s wood-fired goodness. One local family’s passion might just become a tradition for your family.
                                                                                                                                          -Ross Carper

NOTE: The author of this piece offers special thanks to Seth and Laura for their words of advice and encouragement as he made his own “mobile plans” -- and eventually launched The Compass Breakfast Wagon.