Joyride Pizza is a long journey from the hippie cuisine of their childhood – J.
Like the children of machers in the world of macrobiotic food, Jesse and Joshua Jacobs recall a few exceptions made to their healthy, mostly vegetarian, diet as children. Jewish holidays were one such occasion.
Jewish food âdefinitely permeated our childhood,â Josh said. Jesse added, âEven though what brought our parents together was their interest in macrobiotics, they couldn’t ignore their heritage, as long as it wasn’t red meat and it was made from healthy ingredients. The âwhy are we eating differently tonightâ really resonated with our parents in this way. “
Given this background, it may be surprising to learn that the brothers have just introduced a new brand of pizza in San Francisco: Pizza of the ride. (Maybe unrelated, but growing up they ate tofu and cheese pizza, and Jesse said he would spend his spare money on pizza bagels.)
The Jacobs brothers and their three siblings (one of whom, Daria Jacobs-Velde, until recently served the Bay Area as a rabbi) grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, a heavily Jewish suburb of Boston, which also happens to be the center of macrobiotics. movement in America. Their parents, Barbara and Leonard Jacobs, moved there from the Midwest to be a part of it; he was the editor of the movement’s books and she taught thousands of people how to cook with whole foods. Together they wrote âCooking with Seitan: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook on Wheat Meatâ.
The family also grew much of their own food.
âOur parents were like many people looking for a radical change in the ’60s and’ 70s, and went through a lot of hippie movements and everything they had to offer,â Jesse said. “Of all the Commons and Cults, this one had a noble cause, which ate in balance with your surroundings.”
Joyride is the latest to join the Detroit-style square pizza craze (we also wrote about the Jewish owners of Square Pie Guys in this space) – in which the cheese is baked into the crust, with the sides of a hot metal pan left to do its job – and opened in Yerba Buena Gardens and the Mission District.
Everyone loves pizza as much as we do, but we knew we had to do it differently from others.
Before the pandemic, both places were home to their popular tea Samovar. In a now familiar story – but no less painful to live with – they had to go out of business after 20 years in business, having had one of their most successful years in 2019.
Like so many others at home during the pandemic, Jesse took care of kitchen projects like making sourdough and pickles. But knowing that pandemics don’t last forever, he thought about the next steps and landed on pizza, something that brought him and his family joy.
âEveryone loves pizza as much as we do, but we knew we had to do it differently than everyone else,â he said.
While the Jacobs brothers had both worked in Italian restaurants in their youth, they knew little about making good pizza. They brought on board a master pizza maker, Alastair Hannmann. While some ingredients, such as Wisconsin Brick cheese, are necessary for a true Detroit-style pizza, everything else, from grains to toppings, is local and organic, with most sourced from farmers in Sonoma County. The dough undergoes a three-day fermentation process.
âWe’re raising something so basic,â Jesse said.
Jesse opened Samovar in 2002 while living in San Francisco (he now lives in Sevastopol) at a time when no one thought of tea in the same way as coffee and designer cocktails. He had lived in Japan and had become a student of the Japanese tea ceremony. Tea was also the âsocial lubricationâ of the macrobiotic movement, he said.
After working in software, Jesse realized he wanted to have more impact and switched to tea as a way to help farmers and promote mindfulness. (Samovar was known to offer a free cup of tea to people who came to sit quietly, with their devices turned off.)
Josh, who lives in Maine, joined the company about 10 years ago and has always worked remotely.
âOne thing that excited me was seeing tea as a Trojan horse to have a more meaningful life,â he said. âIt just starts with being a functional drink because it concentrates the mind, gives you energy or helps you if you have a cold. But its very culture is linked to mindfulness.
The two brothers have regular meditation practices and say they liked the idea that “we would create a space for people to be more grounded and sane in the world,” Josh said.
Before the pandemic, they were working to expand Samovar beyond San Francisco to Los Angeles, New York and more.
Not anymore. They mourned the demise of the 20-year-old storefront business and moved on. Samovar still exists, but only online – his e-commerce site had reached many tea consumers before the pandemic, so he continues to do good business today.