Hi, I'm Olly from Oscar & Rosie's.
Oscar & Rosie's is a little independent pizza company I founded in Nottingham in the heady autumn of 2013. Our 'thing' is that we use restaurant grade ingredients on pizza. No pre-made plastic sauces, no anonymous poor quality meat and no sticky pre-grated cheese. We love to feature award winning, free range and locally sourced produce. We cook our fresh toppings from scratch, meaning we avoid the processed and the dubious and take pride in a twist or a quirk in our selections. People sometimes ask us what we do to make the pizza so good but honestly, it's no-one thing. It's a just a lot of little details.
Our first location was a regular weekend pop-up in The Picnic Basket sandwich shop next to Nottingham Station. The shop belongs to serial entrepreneur Wendy Baird, who bravely agreed to allow a local lawyer with little experience of catering (me) to install a 400 degree, quarter ton pizza oven in her (no doubt highly flammable) premises.
We ran mostly a delivery and takeaway service, sending our gourmet pizzas throughout the city. It was me at the oven turning out the goods, Jaden and Danny & Libby delivering them, and Kieran out front charming the clientele. The long suffering Mrs Oscar & Rosie's (Leanne - A supportive and wonderful human being but not a natural at the ol' customer service) turned out in support, as did many other occasional helpers and impromptu delivery drivers.
The local paparazzi took an interest, resulting in this article, and a picture that will follow me for the rest of my life. (I should point out that this snap was taken with a long lens without my permission. This is just what I looked like hanging out by the canal with my boxes and peel).
Top that! Nottingham lawyer earns a crust at the weekend as a pizza chef
Despite the limitations of our setup, we were a happy little crew and we had a good time. We made a lot of pizza. We played a lot of jazz funk (the work of Jimmy Smith a particular favourite at the time) and drank a lot of Red Stripe. Before long we had made many new friends amongst the discerning element of the city. We had regulars (and some of them were very regular, you know who you are Alex Lipinski :-), we had tourists seek us out, and we even held the JT Beedham's xmas party. It was clear that we needed more space.
We drew stumps at The Picnic Basket in May 2014 after 6 months to ready ourselves for next location, Oscar & Rosie's @ Das Kino. Das Kino was a major project by a substantial independent developer. It was to be our first full time, sit down setup. I needed to get our shizzle together and raise money for the expansion, so I settled upon what was at the time a new concept, crowd funding. Our Kickstarter campaign was promoted in a short film, shot by me and my 'creative life partner' Raph Achache, after a few sherries one afternoon in Sherwood.
Kickstarter: Oscar & Rosie's
Having been a one man kitchen operation up until this point, I needed to recruit. After a few false starts and some bad noise, I made the fateful decision to retain one Dominic Reddish. A thrusting young chef with all the necessary credentials and a predilection for cleaning behind things, he was briefed to be the adult in the room, professionalising the previously somewhat anarchic kitchen operation. His resemblance to Tom Daley was a mere added bonus. He brought with him a hitherto little known dough virtuoso from Arnold who went by the name William Fox. William was man who had the knack, of acquiring the knack for doing thing and possessed the best hair in 3 counties. His numerous innovations in pizza cooking technique lead us all to suspect that he actually invented pizza itself.
They were certainly both instrumental in the execution of our most notorious creation. The Metre of Pizza (#dontfearthemetre). As the racing driver Mario Andretti once said "if everything is under control then you're not going fast enough" and in keeping with that spirit we'd put the Metre on the menu with a fairly good theory as to how we would make it but never actually having produced one. And so it was that on the second day the kitchen fell silent when the order came in. "To hell with practice" we cried. Caring not a jot for our own safety, the first Metre came out, and much to everyone's surprise, precisely as it had been planned. A legend was born. To date we've made enough Metres of Pizza to stretch over 6 dozen football pitches (at the time of writing) and become known for short as "that place wi' them big pizzas"
In January 2015 I began looking for our next home. We had the sense that what we were doing had value and that it would fly under its own power. We'd had a great time and made a lot of new friends at Das Kino but it was an exercise in compromise for all parties and we needed to be able to control our whole experience.
My first foray into commercial property was a drawn out and emotional affair that concluded in completion on our new home at 7 - 9 Thurland Street on Friday 14th August 2015 the eagle eye among you will have spotted that we had committed to leave Das Kino before this date (in the June in fact). It was a huge gamble. Sometimes you just have to decide what you really want and accept nothing less. It turned out to be a great move as Thurland St became a popular destination for the hungry of Notts and beyond.
In April 2017 we became a family, opening our first Oscar & Rosie's Canteen in the Old Town area of Leicester. I took the view that tweaking the format to counter service with a slice bar would not only allow us to move into a new area without the heavy duty staffing needs of a full service restaurant, but would also allow us to try something new rather than simply repeating ourselves as we expanded. When I found and fell in love with a high ceilinged, wooden floored Victorian shop front with bags of character I was convinced that this was the spot. Oscar & Rosie's Canteen Leicester opened on Friday 7th April.
And then, in summer of 2017 just when it looked like everything was going to settle down for a while, we dropped a bombshell....we are moving out of our Thurland St digs headed for our brand new forever home at 8 Stoney St. This massive mid-century clunker (our 4th Nottingham location) will give us double our capacity and should now mean no more moves in Nottingham ever!
Perhaps the most noticeable operational detail to the casual observer was that, while blessed with really lovely looking vintage radiators, there was no heating system to speak of! With no gas to the building the only real option was to instal air-con climate control (much like we had at Thurland St) but the huge cost was beyond us at the initial build stage. Therefore a decision was taken to use a temporary system for the first winter and save up for next year. As long as the winter of 2017/2018 isn't too long or cold we thought, we'll be fine...cue the longest hardest winter in living memory!!! Obviously...
Bloody hell, 2019 and we’re still here! Who woulda thunk it?! Unfortunately Leicester didn’t work out so we pulled the plug in October. Swing and a miss but stripes earned and lessons learned so there we go. That leaves us unencumbered to focus on making Stoney St the best that she can possibly be. In 2019 we’ll be holding more events and happenings in our upstairs function room (which last year saw all manner of hootenannies including the guitarist from Stone Roses and the first appearance of Lego Club). We’ll also be opening up our back alley (fnarr-fnarr!) to little food popups so as to try and give the next generation the leg up that was so important to us at the start. Oh….and we have heating now! Here’s to a warm winter x
Olly & The Gang