This is not your grandfather’s Greyhound bus. That is unless your grandfather is Luke Cypher, owner of the food truck Blue Sparrow.
You may have enjoyed Blue Sparrow’s global street food over the summer at Allegheny Overlook Pop-Up Park or seen their pop-ups over the years in the North Side, Lawrenceville and Braddock. During the pandemic, Blue Sparrow hosted Pizza Alley pop-ups using its wood-fired oven at its commissary kitchen in Avalon.
When Dancing Gnome opened a new location in Sharpsburg in 2021, Blue Sparrow was one of the food trucks frequently parked at the taproom. So as the brewery began looking for a more permanent food vendor, Blue Sparrow was a logical fit.
“Pizza pop-ups had gotten us through the pandemic,” Cypher says. “So we decided to combine three things: the Blue Sparrow bus, a wood-fired oven and the Dancing Gnome location.”
This perfect pizzeria trifecta opens full-time this January.
Andrew Witchey, owner and brewer of Dancing Gnome, has been working with Cypher since 2016. He says the partnership is beneficial for both parties.
“We share the same mission and ethos surrounding quality product, community building and ultimately how we choose to operate our businesses,” Witchey says. “Being able to partner with them as a permanent fixture at Dancing Gnome means that we can better curate our experiences in a more cohesive and meaningful way, both in regards to product and community.”
Cypher started Blue Sparrow in 2016 after getting his culinary training from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and working at Piccolo Forno.
This is not your grandfather’s pizza, either. His team fuses global ingredients — including vegetables that they pickle and ferment themselves — with classic street food dishes.
Blue Sparrow boasts a menu with 12-inch, six-cut pizzas including braised pork belly pizza, pizza with kimchi and pies with global housemade sausages. The bus will also feature dumplings.
“We’re definitely far from purist when it comes to what kind of pizza we’re making,” Cypher says. “I think that’s one of the things that continues to draw people in — we’re not trying to replace your neighborhood pizza shop — we’re trying to give you a brand new pizza experience.”
Pizza Alley was retired, but the team will still utilize their commissary kitchen in Avalon to prepare sauces, pickles and braised meats.
Pizza remains the focus, though.
“The original food truck build that we did in 2016 had a wood-fired oven in the layout,” Cypher says. “We nixed it because of space. (Pizza making) was always a part of my DNA and something I was fascinated with.”
In 2018, Cypher bought the 1956 Detroit Diesel Greyhound bus that he found on Facebook. A mechanic had rebuilt the bus to take on road trips to NASCAR races — Cypher and his team took out the shower and bunk beds and retrofitted it for food service.
“We were looking for a bigger rig because one of the biggest challenges that a food truck has is how much food you can hold,” Cypher says. “When you start doing festivals with thousands of people or a wedding for 150 people, your bottleneck is space.”
Cypher and his team will have plenty of space at the new bus stop beginning next year.
“We’re super stoked,” Cypher says. “The thing we’re most excited for is the list of things we want to explore and share with our customers.”