By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV
Brayden Pence is a civil engineering student and West Virginia National Guardsman who grew up doing construction with his dad. Watching the growth in the local food scene, he had an idea to build a mobile pizza oven.
“There seems to be a lot of growth going on in the area,” he tells The Real WV. “Everybody loves pizza. Me and my dad had wanted to build an oven for several years. This seemed like the right time.”
Brayden started with an eight-foot single-axle trailer that had been sitting in his backyard for years. “It was a mess,” he confesses. So he stripped it down and started from scratch in May.
He sketched out his vision on paper–sink, fridge, oven, countertops. “I rebuilt it from the ground up and extended it to 12-feet,” he says. “By July it was looking pretty good.”
Next, he had to build the pizza oven itself. “We started with a 1,200 pound concrete slab that’s a platform for the oven,” he remembers. “I bought 300 firebricks from RBS in Caldwell and started building the oven.” In a month’s time, it was built.
He then added pennies to the exterior of the oven as a finishing touch. “A lot of people use tile for their oven, but we used pennies to match the name of the business, Six Pence Pizza.”
Why do they call it Six Pence Pizza? Because there are six Pences in Brayden’s family–Weston (brother), Jaycie (sister), Sherry (mom), Jay (dad), Gracelynn Denning (Brayden’s fiancé), & Brayden himself.
It’s a family affair. They all pitch in and help with different parts of the business. “My grandma even folds the pizza boxes,” Brayden says gratefully. “We built it from the ground up.”
The oven always starts conversation. “It gets a lot of attention,” Brayden says. “People want to look at it and learn how we built it.”
It’s one thing to build a mobile pizza oven from the ground up, but how did Brayden learn to make neapolitan-style pizza?
“YouTube,” he says. “I can’t take the credit for the pizza. I learned how to make it from Vito Iacopelli. I watched his videos online and learned how to make his dough, sauce, and pizza. I also took some extra classes and did some trial and error.”
The results? According to local chef and butcher Brandon Kidd, “Legit pizza.”
Brayden and family set up for the first time at Taste of Our Towns (TOOT) in Lewisburg in October 2022. “I was really surprised with how we did at TOOT,” he says. “This was our first thing ever, and my expectations were pretty low. Then we had the biggest line of anyone. We were the talk of the festival. We sold out in a few hours!”
Brayden explains that they emphasize simplicity. “We make everything from scratch. Use fresh mozzarella, add a hint of honey in the dough, simple and good.”
You can visit Six Pence Pizza this Friday, April 28, outside The Sportsman Tavern in Ronceverte. They will offer their standard menu which includes four pizzas–margherita, pepperoni, meat lovers, and supreme.
And you can also try something new this weekend. “We are adding a pickle pizza this weekend,” Brayden teases. “It’s a little twist that I tried out recently.”
They also offer cinnamon sticks for those with a sweet tooth.
Check out their Facebook page for hours.