When COVID-19 hit the nation hard in March abruptly shutting down business and entire industries, Arin Finger, franchise owner of i9 Sports youth sports organization, was forced to pause all league practices and games for the unforeseeable future. Rather than sitting idly by in the midst of shutdowns, Finger quickly developed a new business: Dough Riders, a mobile wood fired pizza company serving fresh-to-order pizzas on demand. And though pizza and sports are two very different things — they both accomplish one very important result in today’s world: bringing the community together.

“With no idea how long the closures would last and refund requests pouring in, I had to do something to support my family and my key employees,” says Finger, who has successfully run his i9 Sports league for more than seven years and was expecting his biggest Spring season yet, with over 2,500 youth signed up. “Dough Riders is a solution to a need that developed out of COVID-19 — providing families with wholesome food without leaving home — and we’re proud that we can do something during these times that reconnects neighborhoods and communities.”

While it was happenstance that led Finger to switch from sports gloves to oven mitts, the transition happened naturally, and he knew immediately this concept was the recipe for success during his unexpected downtime from i9 Sports. Already adept at running his own business (having a network of youth and families to appeal to didn’t hurt either), Finger approached Codey Stetler, his lead soccer instructor with i9 Sports, who also happened to have culinary experience making fresh dough from his own Italian family’s pizzeria background. With both Stetler and Finger having New York heritage, building a menu featuring creative New York-style pizzas came easy. With that, Finger officially fired up Dough Riders Wood Fired Pizza Co., a mobile company specializing in made-to-order, fresh-out-of-the-oven pies for private, corporate and community events, outdoor concerts, farmers markets and any special occasion.

Dough Riders offers a simple approach to wood-fired pizzas in an on-demand format that meets the needs of today’s modern food culture. While New York is the inspiration for the thin, crispy dough, the toppings and variety extend far beyond the Big Apple. Signature options include the Elote, made with garlic oil, roasted corn and poblano, bacon, cilantro, Mexican cheese and lime crema; the Backyard BBQ, featuring Dough Riders’ signature BBQ ranch base, mozzarella, BBQ chicken, red onions, crispy bacon and scallions; the Gold Finger, with sliced Yukon Gold potatoes, bacon, Red Dragon cheese, sauerkraut, and green onions; the Chi-Ba-Ranch, made with shredded buffalo chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions and ranch; and the most popular item, the Ron Swanson, featuring pepperoni, sausage, prosciutto, bacon, and roasted garlic.

Dough Riders also offers starters such as garlic knots, pepperoni rolls and two salad choices — The Signature with spring mix, capicola ham, red onions, cherry tomatoes and Kalamata olives with balsamic dressing and a classic Caesar. And for dessert, Dough Riders features the Sweet Bacon Jammin’ with peanut butter, caramelized bananas, and bacon jam, and Stuffed Pizzelle Cookies made with two flat butter cookies stuffed with lemon zest and sweet ricotta cream then finished with apple caramel drizzle and powdered sugar.

Using an 800-degree oven, Dough Riders provides a visual presentation with each order. Pizzas are served fresh in less than two minutes, and guests can enjoy watching their scratch-made pizza go from start to finish right before their eyes.

While available for personal booking and catering events, Dough Riders also rolls around the valley and sets up shop at events such as farmers markets and sports event watch parties, and partners with breweries and other local businesses to serve their freshly made, hand-stretched pizzas all over town. For an up-to-date calendar of where to find Dough Riders, visit them on Facebook or Instagram. For more about Dough Riders, visit www.doughriders.com.