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When Justin Connors visited New York City pizzeria Lombardi’s with his wife Sarah, he thought “Man, there is nothing like that at home.”
The St. Thomas University student and father of two couldn’t find anything like the NYC pizza in Fredericton, so he “went out on a quest to recreate it.” A year and many pizzas later, he developed recipes and decided to try a mobile stand at the market together with his first cousin and best friend Jeff Starkey.
“I think Fredericton is really starting to see people that are excited about good food. We’re all fresh, everything is handmade and we use local ingredients,” says the 27-year-old.
He’s been selling pizza for a month now at the North Side Market. Justin and his business partner Jeff have made a slight profit each week. Since his wife is a full-time nursing student at the University of New Brunswick and he’s a Media Studies student at STU, the stand helps to pay off the bills at the end of the month.
Before STU, he had a job in a call centre and also worked as a freelance web designer.
“When we had Hannah [our daughter], I was in call centres working. You know it’s like a ten dollar an hour job, so you wanna make the decision: Do I wanna stay here and survive for the rest of my life, or why should this define my life?
“So many people have kids and that’s it. They never go back to school, they just kinda get stuck for a while. So, my wife and I, we said ‘Hey, let’s just do it! It will be hard, but it’ll be worth it.”
Justin’s day starts at 6 a.m. when he gets up to make sure his four-year-old daughter and his two-year-old son are ready to go. He makes their lunches, drops them off at kindergarten and day care, and worries then about his courses.
“I wouldn’t even consider that I’m good at [time management]. But then I guess, I look at other people and they’re not doing half the stuff I’m doing and they can barely handle it. So, I guess in a sense, I must be okay at it. But it’s definitely stressful.”
Justin has no classes Mondays, so he uses the free time to study for his classes on Tuesdays. Wednesday is his shopping day, when he buys all his pizza ingredients.
Throughout the week, family time is limited for the Connors with both parents studying. So, they bring their children along to the market.
“Hannah, my daughter, she likes to come, cause she wants to think she’s working. So, she’ll sit on the pop cooler and with some orders like Coke or Pepsi, she’ll bend in and get it. It’s funny, customers laugh, cause they can’t see her at all, cause we have a big, high counter. And all of a sudden, they order a coke and there’s a little hand and a coke up in the air.”
Justin says he wants his children to know that they can always come to him about anything. He wants them to be safe about their choices and to have integrity and character.
According to him it would have been easier to go through university without children, but nonetheless it’s enriching. Once he’s fifty, his kids will be in university and gone. Then, he and Sarah can travel or do whatever they like.
“Right now, I guess, the coolest part about it is that I can spend more time than I would think if I had a forty hours per week job. Cause I do have odd times in my schedule and last summer I got to spend the whole summer with them. Nobody really get to do that, right? Most people work all the time. So, being in school afforded me that, to see them grow in their young years. I wouldn’t trade it. For sure it’s hectic, but I wouldn’t trade it.”