Sal’s thinks outside the pizza box

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With countless restaurants across the country shuttering their doors due to COVID-19, business owners are testing out all sorts of new models to keep themselves afloat, be it outdoor seating, contactless delivery or even cocktails to go.

For Sal Lupoli, co-founder and owner of local chain Sal’s Pizza, the answer is pizza trucks and a brand-new delivery app.

COURTESY KELLI WHOLEY

Just download the Sal’s Mobile app, and you’ll have a pizza faster than you can say cheese.

“We feel we’re the first to move on this,” said Lupoli, a Chelmsford resident and developer. “I’ve never, ever seen anything remotely close to this on the scale that we’re planning. It’s going to change the way this country delivers pizza.”

On Aug. 5, Lupoli launched Sal’s Mobile, an app that allows Lowell residents to order custom pizzas from one of five trucks the company has spread across the city and have them delivered faster than anyone else, a feat Lupoli said is done by sending the orders to both the trucks and the delivery drivers simultaneously.

“We had a customer the other day that ordered a pizza, and 15 minutes later it was at their house,” Lupoli said. “They didn’t realize the truck was literally two blocks away. Sal’s pizza is not across town — now we’re right in your backyard.”

Lupoli told The Sun that he originally came up with the concept for a mobile pizza truck in 2003 to find a way around ever-increasing rent costs, but he wasn’t able to get the idea off the ground until the appropriate smartphone technology rolled out a decade and a half later.

Still, he hadn’t expected to roll out Sal’s Mobile this year, but as the coronavirus pandemic forced him to temporarily close a number of his locations, including his two shops in Boston, Lupoli said he needed to push the launch forward to help cover his losses.

That meant spending a couple million dollars to get the trucks out into the community.

“We’re taking monster hits right now, but we need to innovate,” Lupoli said. “There will be a time when people will be able to go back out, but I can’t wait. I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve got to move quickly.”

The app has initially launched just in Lowell because Sal’s doesn’t already operate a store in the city, but he said he expects trucks will soon be in Waltham and Cambridge as well. Sal’s Pizza currently has a dozen locations across Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

As for the trucks, Lupoli said they continue to use fresh ingredients every day and carry gas-fired ovens, all to ensure that his customers don’t experience any drop in quality.

“From an entrepreneurial lens, what COVID has done is, it has allowed us to get out of brick-and-mortar and think outside the box,” he said. “The day has come as a result of some really bad situations across the world, but we’re able to pivot and create something that’s really special.”

Residents interested in downloading the Sal’s Mobile app can do so in the Apple or Google Play stores, or visit www.SalsMobile.com.

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