John and Laurabeth Ferguson’s “Fergndan’s Wood Fired Pizza Cafe” located on Highway 30 introduces a brand new concept and taste to Oxford’s pizza offerings. Following dinner at Fergndan’s, HottyToddy.com’s Steve Vassallo discussed the new restaurant with owner, John Ferguson.
Vassallo: John, before we get into the product itself, tell our readers where you are located and the hours of operation.
Ferguson: We are located at 176 Highway 30 East exactly one mile from where the four lane of Molly Bar/Highway 30 becomes two lanes on the righthand side of the road, and our hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Vassallo: Re: alcohol sales, will you allow “bring your own bottle/beverage” for the time being?
Ferguson: Please! Feel free to bring your own bottle or beverage! We’ll even provide glasses if you’d like.
Vassallo: Exactly how did this concept enter your and Laurabeth’s radar?
Ferguson: It was born out of the desire to have a family business that we could all work together in and still practice the same hospitality we did at our home. We loved having friends and family over so this became an extension of that. It’s such an exhilarating atmosphere and we all love it and have so much fun with it!
Vassallo: Your pizza has a unique taste which is very appealing and the pie crust is thinner than most.
Ferguson: Wood fired pizza is a magical thing! It’s so distinct from other ways of cooking pizzas. The dough itself has to be formulated very differently than the dough you’d use at home so you can get that thin crispy seared crust on the bottom (known as “char”) and the “leoparding” on the crust around the edge.
Vassallo: Our waiter mentioned the pizza cooked at 900 degrees. The waiting time was minimal.
Ferguson: The temperature and stone are absolutely integral to the wood fired pizza process! The usual cook time is only 90 seconds. The oven cooks in three different ways at the same time so the pizzas have to be watched and turned for them to come out properly.
Vassallo: The atmosphere in the restaurant is very inviting.
Ferguson: Thank you. We completely renovated a house that was built in the ’50s and felt it was instantly part of our identity. We wanted to keep the warmth and charm that made it feel like home, so we kept as many of those touches as possible while integrating our food truck roots into the overall design. We wanted to keep everything out where everyone could see, hear, and smell the whole process. From the dough throwing, to topping, to firing in the oven, we wanted our guests to be as involved with the process as much as they wanted to be, so we tried to make every aspect of the process as accessible as safely possible.
Vassallo: With Oxford having an abundance of pizza places, why do you believe another one will be successful here?
Ferguson: There truly are some amazing pizza options here in Oxford, but we really felt like we were bringing an age old comfort food to life in an old world way. Fire is so social and primal. Its warmth just draws people in and we get to share not just a product, but a whole experience with Oxford!
Vassallo: Describe the inventory in detail as to all the varieties that you offer as well as the dessert pizza.
Ferguson: We love playing with all kinds of different toppings and combinations so everyone will see most of their favorites here. Of course we offer amazing pepperoni and cheese pizzas, but you’ll also find fresh cut veggies on the market pizza and hearty pizzas like the meat and supreme. We offer a taco pizza, a Hawaiian style, and even a BBQ or ranch-based pizza if you prefer. But if you can’t find one that suits you named on the menu we’ll do everything we can to make you the pizza you want. As I mentioned before, pizza is an immensely personal thing and with all of the cultures and experiences that have melted here in Oxford no can be everything to everybody, but we will truly try our best! As far as the dessert pizzas go, well you can’t have a wood fire that hot and not do S’mores. Our S’mores pizza is our house crust but with Marshmallow Crème as the sauce base and then covered with chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs, and finally topped with mini marshmallows that are browned and toasted in the center of the oven. The whole menu with pizzas, salads, and desserts are available on our website at fergndanspizza.com or on our facebook page under the menu tab.
Vassallo: Pricing is important to consumers and especially in a student environment. How do your prices compare?
Ferguson: The Oxford market is all over the board on pricing, so anyone can find a pizza at a price point for their budget. For the quality and amount of toppings we use, we believe that we offer the best value proposition in town.
Vassallo: John, is there anything else that you would like to emphasize that sets Fergndan’s apart from the field?
Ferguson: I truly believe what sets us apart from everyone else is the experience we offer! The café experience, the food truck experience, and the catering experience are immersive and everyone loves being able to be a part of it. And now with the café on Highway 30 you can have it without having to fight the traffic of Jackson Avenue or Square parking.
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is an active Economic Development Consultant working with communities globally who live in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at email@example.com or call him at 985-852-7745.