'It's been really important to me to be as inclusive in every single facet of the business': Serving up a slice of community in West Allis
WEST ALLIS, WIS (CBS 58) - A pandemic pivot led to a true labor of love for a small business owner in West Allis. Dana Spandet is the mind behind Flour Girl and Flame on National Avenue.
It's a rustic wood-fired pizzeria in West Allis dishing out one of America's most beloved foods. It all started because of the pandemic.
"I'm the executive chef at Tall Guy and a Grill Catering and when the pandemic hit we shut down. We couldn't cater and we had laid off our entire staff and I got a little nervous for my own job. So, I bought the trailer here, our woodfire pizza trailer here and we started doing weddings. We also began catering pop up events and the community really embraced us. I think kind of launched us into popularity right away was that fact that we were able to provide people an experience that was outdoors in a safe environment and still have fun with it. "
Fun, leading Spandet to open her own storefront in West Allis.
"Here we have switched to the brick and mortar you'll see we have our trailer parked up to the back of the building and it's given our team an opportunity to remain engaged and keep working."
Work, welcoming a collaboration with other small businesses.
"As an LGBT woman owner, it's been really important to me to be as inclusive in every single facet of the business as possible. Local is in our bones and blood. We have so many local businesses we work with. We have made our mission to support diverse vendors. We're using Siren Shrubs which is a woman owned company. We're using Soul Brew Kombucha a Black brewing company and we're using Milwaukee's only water company Be Clear Water."
When they're not sourcing products or ingredients from small businesses, they get a little help from "Eleanor Growsevelt."
"A couple weeks ago I went to order a pound of basil and could not get it in from anywhere. So I said okay, fine. We're going to start this so we will be able to grow all of our own greens for our pizzas.
Pizzas with a few cheesy names. Like 'Ricotta Be Kidding Me' and 'Potato Leek on Fleek".
"We like to have fun around here so It's just another way to collaborate between us and say okay guys we're using this ingredient this week what can we do to make it fun?"
The pizza dough at Flour Girl and Flame is also special.
"Normally when you look at a ball of pizza dough it's this pristine white ball. Ours has little flecks of wheat bran and wheatgerm and that’s the stuff that's good and nutritious for you. We make our dough fresh every week it goes through a 48-hour cold fermentation process in bulk and then we ball up the pizza dough fresh daily."
With so many pizza places in Milwaukee, CBS 58 had to find out what brings the trust to this crust.
"If you see a photo of our pizza, you know it's our pizza. So, the esthetic of our pizza is leopard spotting on the outside so it's this specific char pattern. We also finish our pizzas with a drizzle of our local honey on the crust and it all goes really well together. We're the only local Milwaukee company that is making their own hot honey. We have it for sale for retail and wholesale. So, we keep our bees on the rooftop at our shop here so it's our bees and our honey."
And if you're up for the challenge, you can even make one of their pizzas yourself.
"We have pizza kits. In our pizza kits you get one of our organic heritage dough balls, all the ingredients. Then we have a link to a video to learn how to stretch out the pizza dough. So, it’s a fun kind of date night, make at a home get the kids involved experience."
An experience Dana works so hard to share each and every day.
"I actually do all of our social media that was kind of important for me from the start was to establish a voice for the business. I take the pictures on my iPhone and have actually gotten pretty good at it.
With each post, Flour Girl and Flame serves up a slice of community.
"Honestly, it's the human connection that we are able to forge with all of the connections we've been able to form working with all these diversely owned vendors. It's our mission to make everybody feel welcome."