Before the pandemic, Sanctuary Pizza Owner Ryan Mondragon was working for a pizza catering company, traveling for birthdays, weddings and parties. Once the pandemic happened, the company moved to Nashville, leaving Mondragon without a job like so many others. With the knowledge he had after 7 years at the previous company, he offered local COVID-friendly pizza pop ups out of his backyard and quickly realized that he was going to be in the full-time pizza business once again. He invested in trucks and a portable Ooni oven — all he needed was the perfect pizza pan.
Mondragon first found out about LloydPans at Pizza Expo in 2018 when he saw pans for sale in the booth. Detroit-style pizza stood out as the pizza of choice, as those were the highlight of the show’s competitions. He purchased a couple as a litmus test, and it took off. He now has close to 90 pans for his post-pandemic pizza catering company and pop up business, including 8x10 and 10x14 Detroit-Style Pans and Sicilian-Style Pans.
“The 8x10 Detroit-style pizza we offer for our customers is the perfect size for our wood fire oven,” Mondragon says.
Heading into 2024, Mondragon is looking to expand into a brick and mortar location in order to offer more styles of pizza and upscale the catering operation, which also features neapolitan-style pizza, calzones, veggie pesto and build your own combinations.
“I get really inspired when I go to Pizza Expo and see what other people are doing out there. I also go to the East Coast a lot and try the styles that they’re making, the flavor combinations. Being in the Central Valley we’re not exposed to those styles of pizza. We don’t have Detroit-style pizza spots, New York-style pizza spots. If we do, they’re very small and few and far between."
Mondragon’s aim is to bring different pizza to the area, not necessarily to reinvent the wheel, but to bring back to Californians that is good quality and tastes good.
“For me, simplicity is the best. A good cheese, using quality cheese and tomatoes,” he says. “Lately I’ve been loving a really good cheese pizza with basil on it, a margherita. I’ve been falling in love with the simplicity of that style of pizza. I could eat a whole pizza and not get too full or feel heavy without all the ingredients on it.”