He thought he’d sell 15 pizzas. “I just thought I’d see what would come of it,” says Jason Murray. At the time he was a University student who had built an oven out of mud in his backyard.
“The first pizza that came out of our oven was really good so I started making them for friends and decided one day to put the oven on a cart and take it to the street,” he recalls, “I never expected it to turn into all this.”
Before the day was half gone Murray had sold more than 50 pizzas. Now, four years later, he is sitting in the dining area of his newly opened pizza restaurant answering questions about the success of his business.
It all started with a cart – a cart that eventually paid for his entire education, mortgage and supported his family of five all while he was college student.
“This was never the plan,” says Murray, who graduated from Southern Utah University as an outdoor recreation major, “I’m not a business guy. I just enjoy people and the cart gave me a way to get to know this community, hear people’s stories, and share experiences.”
Since the first day he took the cart to the streets, customers have continued to come – sometimes braving sub-zero weather, wind, rain, and snow. If you’ve ever tasted one of Murray’s wood-fired masterpieces you would understand why.
Murray attributes the success of the cart to more than just the pizza. “This community is full of some of the most giving and loyal people you will ever meet. So many people have stood behind us. I don’t even know if they like my pizza or not,” Murray jokes as a regular customer sat down with a slice, “Sometimes I wonder if they just keep showing up to let us know they support us.”
Before Murray could finish his thoughts, the owner of the restaurant next door walked in, handing him an empty pizza plate. “This was the best one yet,” he smiled, “my new favorite.” Murray explained that while they were getting their new indoor location up and running, this man had basically kept them fed.
One might expect next-door competitors to be less friendly, but in Cedar City Murray says, “People want each other to succeed.”
Murray recalls the support he also received from SUU professors while an undergraduate, “I’ve always been excited about some project or another,” he says, “I remember talking with Briget Eastep, one of my favorite professors, and always feeling encouragement and support from her about whatever I was doing.”
Murray went on to add, “So many people have given so much help and support to us along the way. I just hope that in some way we will be able to give back.”
Hoping others T-Birds find success as well, Murray offers these words of advice: “Have a good reason for doing what you’re doing. If you wake up every day with a purpose, stick with it, and give yourself deadlines, you’ll get there. Things may evolve but you’ll eventually reach your goal.”