- A restaurant boss launched a side hustle of selling pizzas from a boat to people in Tampa Bay.
- Sean Ferraro shouts down a megaphone and wears a flowery hat to attract swimmers’ attention.
- The side job has only boosted sales by 5%, but more people are dining in the restaurant, he said.
Swimmers and sunbathers on Florida’s west coast are getting a rather delicious surprise this summer.
It’s all thanks to Sean Ferraro, boss of Madison Avenue Pizza in Dunedin, who decided to take his business down a different path.
Ferraro told Insider that he and his colleagues joked about him buying a boat and incorporating it into his pizza restaurant, a two-minute drive from the beach.
One day while searching on Facebook Marketplace, a small, lightweight boat — also known as a skiff — popped up, which Ferraro thought would be perfect for the job. He bought the boat, restored it, and fitted it with heated pizza bags in time for the summer season.
Now, he’s known as the Pizza Skiff Guy in Tampa Bay.
On Saturdays, Ferraro can be heard trying to attract the attention of hungry sunbathers to whom he can sell his $20 fresh pizza. He’s become known for shouting down his megaphone while driving around the small islands wearing a bright, flowery hat. When he first started, people looked at him like he was weird.
Now, the brand is now recognizable across Tampa Bay, according to Ferraro.
“I have to reassure people I’m not making these at my house or in the back of a van or something, it’s actually coming from a real pizzeria,” he said.
More than 70 boats carrying around eight people each anchor around one of the islands on a Saturday, he said. This is his primary market.
“Those people are basically stuck there for hours and after a little while you get sick of eating a cold sandwich or some potato chips,” Ferraro said.
When asked what type of pizzas he sells on the water, he said: “Real easy, just cheese and pepperoni.”
He drives around between midday and 3 p.m., letting “people build up a little bit of an appetite” ahead of lunchtime. Customers then start queuing up in long lines in the water or on boats, waiting for Ferraro and his assistant to take their order.
On an average day, Ferraro sells 30 to 40 pizzas. “After 40 to 50, it’s tiring … so I usually throw in the towel.”
The boat job hasn’t massively boosted Madison Avenue Pizza’s sales — Ferraro said sales have increased by 5% in total. But the goal of the boat project was long-term and more about his restaurant’s visibility and marketing rather than the money it directly raked in, he said.
“The pizza project is kind of like a little side hustle,” Ferraro explained. “It’s not a gigantic revenue stream for us, but it’s definitely a great side hustle for the days I can get out.”
Since launching the boat job, the chef said he’s seen an uptick in the number of people eating at Madison Avenue Pizza, which brings in the majority of the money. The restaurant has been packed with diners all summer, he added.
“It’s like a hack in the system,” he told Insider. “I get to drive around on a boat and sell pizzas.”