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Solar-Powered Food Truck Launched By One of Chicago's Oldest Pizzerias

By Paul Biasco | April 8, 2016 5:21am
 The Father and Son food truck features solar panels on the roof that help power much of the kitchen.
The Father and Son food truck features solar panels on the roof that help power much of the kitchen.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LOGAN SQUARE — A mobile solar-powered pizza party could soon be headed to a street near you.

One of the city's oldest pizza shops, Marcello's Father and Son, is launching a food truck.

The family-owned restaurant, which has been turning the clocks back inside the restaurant over the past year in an effort to showcase its history, is looking to the future with its new truck.

Billy Bauer, who still makes pizzas the same way his great aunt Irma made them in the 1930s, decided it was time to launch a food truck after a trip to Portland about two years ago.

"It was really interesting to me. I thought it was a neat new way of getting your brand out there," Bauer said.

When he told his 20-year-old son Zack about the plan, the younger Bauer suggested a twist — to make it solar powered.

Zack Bauer, an environmental studies major at Fort Lewis College in Colorado, saw it as an opportunity to put his studies and interest in alternative energy to the test.

"I just thought that it would be really cool to put solar panels on the top to run all the electricity inside, so we could make a pizza in a sustainable way," Zack Bauer said.

The truck has an oven in the back that can churn out pizzas in about four minutes.

Billy Bauer wanted to build the truck from scratch and provided his son with the electrical specs of all the equipment he would need inside the truck to make pizzas and other items such as panini.

Zack Bauer calculated he would need four panels on the roof, which charge batteries inside the vehicle so it can run even on a cloudy day.

The panels power the refrigeration, a belt inside the oven, venting and lights, but a propane tank is still needed to fuel the oven.

"Certain myths about solar panels not providing enough power or night time being an issue was kind of debunked by this project," Zack Bauer said.

The truck is still not "street legal" in Chicago, as the restaurant is in the process of obtaining a mobile food truck license, but is currently working private events and street fests.

Marcello's Father and Son, 2475 N. Milwaukee Ave., is one of the 10 oldest pizzerias in Chicago and has since expanded to locations in Lincoln Park and Northbrook.

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