- March 13, 2018
When you think of Pennsylvania, the first images that come to mind are probably not palm trees and sunshine. But at Island Pizza in Birdsboro, owner Bill Vanneman and family have created an escape. With pizza dough made daily, an outdoor bar & patio that overlooks the sunset and nearly 40 beers on tap, Island Pizza truly is a slice of paradise.
Heady Times (HT): You’re located in southeast Pennsylvania. What made you decide on the name Island Pizza?
Bill Vanneman (Bill): My wife and I used to go on vacation to islands a lot when we were younger and we wanted to open up a pizza shop on an island. One time while we were at a pizza shop in Aruba, we got to talking with the owner, who told us it is very expensive to make pizza on an island because all of the ingredients have to come from somewhere else… you don’t see many wheat fields on an island. So when we opened up here, we called it Island Pizza and our specialty pizzas were named specifically after islands.
HT: Why Pizza?
Bill: I grew up in a pizza shop and making pizza was something I loved to do. My wife supported and encouraged me to open my own place. Not many wives would tell their husbands to give up a good, secure job to open a restaurant. I don’t get to make the pizza anymore, it takes a toll on your body, so my son Billy makes most of it now.
HT: How many types of pizza do you have?
Billy Vanneman (Billy): We normally have about 20 different styles and we are always experimenting. I’ve made dessert pizza and peanut butter & jelly pizza. On busy football Sundays, I’ll come in early and make breakfast pizza for the staff. They love it.
HT: What changes have you made over the years?
Bill: When I first bought this place, it had a straight bar with nine barstools and two beer meisters. Every year we got bigger and bigger. We redid the bar a few years ago and decided to focus more on craft beer. We ended up being so busy that we outgrew the space and had to do more renovations to move the cooler next to the bar. It used to be on the opposite side of the building and we’d have to move the kegs through the dining room to change them. Along with that we put in a 25 tap system. When we saw how well things were going after that we decided to build an outside patio.
HT: How has the patio changed business for you?
Bill: We always wanted to offer a spot to sit outside and drink. Originally, the building had an overhang outside and we tried having certain nights with beer pong, bean bags, music, etc. but it wasn’t generating the business we hoped for. Now our patio has a bar with eight taps and thirty barstools along with fifteen dining tables. It really increases traffic for us; we have people come here just for the patio. We’re not in the city and we have a bit of land surrounding the building, so it’s very beautiful and relaxing out there.
HT: What are your plans for the future?
Bill: We are going to create a to-go side so people picking up their orders don’t even have to come inside. We are also going to double the number of spaces in the parking lot from 50 to 100. We want to keep bringing people in, but if the parking lot is full we fear that people will leave.
Bill Vanneman and his son Billy of Island Pizza
IslandPizzaBarandGrill.com • 3060 Limekiln Rd., Birdsboro • 610-404-7800