What began as a hobby and a love for cooking, quickly became a business for Tyler Traut of Texarkana, Arkansas last year during the pandemic. “About six years ago I started really getting into cooking out of boredom mostly. I started with small things and would spend weeks trying to perfect just one simple recipe. Once I mastered it, I would move onto something else. The things I mastered were steaks, burgers and spaghetti. It was back then that I came up with a special sauce recipe that I still use today on the pizzas I make. My parents were the ones who taught me to cook many years ago, and I took everything they taught me and put it into what I was trying to make and master,” says Tyler.
“One of the first pizzas I ever made was a deer pizza. My friends would come over every day and we would work together to make a masterpiece and eventually we did,” says Tyler. Tyler currently runs Underground Pizza with the occasional help from his supportive parents. “Right now I make between 45-50 pizzas on a good day, and on a slow day I will make about 10,” says Tyler. What started off as a fun way to improve his talents for cooking took off during the pandemic in 2020. “Before the pandemic I made a pizza for a friend and they kept telling me that I needed to start selling them because they were so impressed. I didn’t really think much of it until someone posted me on Texarkana Cheers and Jeers, and thats when the messages really started coming in,” said Tyler. “I wasn’t really going into this thinking that it was going to be a full-time business. I was still working a full-time job making $16 an hour, and I wasn’t sure I was going to do anything with the pizza making on the side. Then the pandemic hit and I was laid off, and I kept getting messages about ordering pizza so I went ahead and ran with it, and it turned out to be a great thing,” says Tyler.
While he did eventually go back to work during the pandemic, the effect of the communities support for Underground Pizza was still being felt, and Tyler eventually left his full-time job to make pizzas for a living. “I really had to think about leaving my full-time job, but I always knew in my heart that I wanted to do something with cooking. I had the entrepreneurial bug, as I call it. It was because of the continued community support that I was able to really feel comfortable leaving my job and doing this full time,” says Tyler. Tyler currently makes pizzas out of his home and the only advertisement he has used was community support through Facebook. “It’s been kind of crazy. Every time someone writes a post about me on Facebook I get texts, messages and calls and I get booked for days at a time. When I first started out, it was shocking because I had 100 unread messages, and Facebook thought it was a scam, so they sent over another 150 messages into the spam folder. It was so crazy getting back to people that I had to have my mom help answer messages and schedule people,” says Tyler.
Now that Tyler has made a name for himself, he is hoping to open up a food truck in the future. “Before all of this started I was working on making a smoker that could attach to my truck so that I could go out to bars on the weekends, and get customers as they were leaving the bar. Now I think it’s time to start branching out into a food truck so I can really continue to boost business,” said Tyler. Tyler specializes in several different pizzas but his favorite is his BBQ pizza. “I cook all of my own meat at home. I smoke my own pork for about 17 hours in competition style BBQ, and while many think it’s sacrilegious to put it on pizza, it truly makes some of the best pizza out there,” says Tyler. Tyler makes custom pizzas ranging from $10-$17, and can deliver with a $5 fee.
“I really want the community to know that if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing this. I absolutely love what I am doing and am blown away daily at the response that I keep getting. It makes the long days worth it. Many days it takes a lot of time to get to messages, and I know it can be frustrating, but I work everyday to make sure everyone gets what they want, and that the pizza’s they do get are exactly what they need,” says Tyler. His current hours of operation are Sunday-Saturday 11 a.m.- 9p.m, and some holidays. Underground Pizza is here to stay according to Tyler, “I have found my purpose. A love for what I do, and an appreciation for serving our community,” says Tyler.
To schedule a pizza order from Tyler you can reach him through his Facebook page. Response times may vary due to the influx of messages.