All Aboard Izzy's Pizza BusOct 22, 2023 02:02AM ● By David Zorko
Photo by Bill Sitzmann.
The pop-hiss of an air brake, a streak of headlights, and bright colors pausing curbside often indicates the arrival of a bus. However, if the sign swings out to reveal not a stop sign, but a pizza perpendicular to the driver, then something tasty has arrived on the scene: Izzy’s Pizza Bus. Helming the wheel—and the ovens within—is Brett Geiger, the pizzaiolo behind the airy, flavorful, Detroit-style pies that brown to perfection in an 8”x10” trapezoidal, flared pan.
Brett’s journey in the bus, otherwise known as ‘Vincent,’ didn’t begin in Omaha. It first roared to life in Las Vegas, Nevada, when Brett was a member of the Cirque du Soleil backstage staff. While in Sin City, Geiger began making pizzas on the side because he felt pizza had become too expensive and he wanted to make it for himself. He learned from Tony Gemignani’s book The Pizza Bible and podcasts such as “What’s Good Dough?” As he moved forward in pizza, he scaled Cirque back to part time.
The bus’ official birthday was October 3, 2019, with its first pizza emerging from the ovens for sale that day, but as Brett stated, “It barely left; it was such a terrible day. I had no idea on how to operate, I built the bus for fun [and] I had this grand idea of showing up…not really prepping anything. It was a big, big learning day.”
However, that sputtering start became a lifeline to Brett, wife Cherish, and daughter Izzy (for whom the business is named). As COVID hit in 2020, Cirque performances were halted, but the bus was permitted to continue via contactless pickup. During this time, Izzy’s started to gain traction in Las Vegas, until a desire to be closer to family brought the bus to Omaha in July, 2022.
Omaha’s introduction to Geiger’s sauce-topped pizzas occurred on July 15 of that year at the Bearded Brewer.
“There was a lot more hype than we expected,” Cherish said.
“It was much more well-received than I thought,” Brett added.
Both Geigers theorized that the Omaha populace may already have their favorite pizza spots locked in, but as it turned out, the city craved variety. At that first event, the crew “sold out in 45 minutes, with a huge line, like 20 minutes before we opened,” Brett recalled.
Both the Geigers and their inspired take on pizza have won the heart of Stacy Winters, who oversees the active and influential Omaha Food Lovers Facebook group.
“Brett and Cherish are some of the most down-to-earth people—you can’t help but root for them!” Winters exclaimed. “Izzy’s is some of the best pizza in Omaha! That focaccia-like crust and caramelized, crispy cheese edge is otherworldly…”
Outside Omaha, those cheesy Detroit-style pies haven’t escaped notice. On September 8, 2023, Brett and the bus premiered on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives hosted by Guy Fieri. Their television debut was originally shaping up in Las Vegas, with Geiger contacted by DDD a few months before moving to Omaha. At that time, likely due to the move, the production team chose not to proceed, and the emails in Brett’s inbox faded into memory.
Geiger recalled that he felt “blessed that I had that email once in my life.”
Then, a fresh email arrived in March of 2023. Brett read it while sitting on the couch with Cherish, and he looked at her and said, “You’re never going to guess the email I just got.”
A preliminary interview was scheduled and conducted, followed by a second to discuss recipes—the made-from-scratch sauce chosen by daughter Izzy, the house-made ranch, and the freshly shredded cheese selection (along with the story behind the bus itself).
That interview was the “you make it [on the show] or you don’t” deal-breaker, Geiger relayed.
A few weeks later, in early May, 2023, the “you made it” was heard over the Geigers’ receiver. Izzy’s Pizza Bus was going to share parking with Triple D’s red 1968 Camaro, and Brett was going to share time in front of the ovens with Guy Fieri. Geiger and Fieri’s first meeting transpired during filming—unscripted, and “nerve wracking…the adrenaline was through the roof—I think I blacked out for part of it. I know that I made dough in front of him, but I don’t remember making it,” Geiger recalled.
A seemingly foregone opportunity became reality as the Geigers were able to view the results during an open house watch party at the bus’ Trucks and Taps home base, located at 5402 S 108th St in Omaha. Geiger pulled out a piping hot ‘Honeypeño Pizza’, with its mozzarella/brick cheese blend, pepperoni, house-pickled jalapeños, red sauce, parmesan, and a generous drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey for good measure. He also cooked up a ‘Miss Mona,’ which included a medley of delectable toppings, including: pulled chicken, diced bacon, and house-made ranch. Brett and Cherish spoke of Fieri’s character, noting that he was “genuine” and even went over to greet daughter Izzy before interacting with the rest of the Izzy's staff.
Geiger’s pizza accolades and recognition are well deserved; the heart, quality, and care shine through with every bite of the puffy, cheesy, crispy, frico-edged rectangular pies. Brett is focused on his craft, and Cherish is his constant partner—making pizzas, and helping customers while honoring daughter Izzy with every order.
When those big red letters atop a big red and yellow bus arrive…there’s a chance the tantalizing aroma of pizza may follow. If so, the only corners cut are to frame the pie. But passengers be warned—there’s no seatbelts on Izzy’s Pizza Bus, and there’s no stops between that first bite and a newfound craving.