Greenshoots: DJ swaps the decks for dough and opens Dumbarton pizza shop

A Scottish DJ-turned-entrepreneur that made his dream of opening a pizza shop a reality has won a national business award.

Stephen Kirkwood

Stephen Kirkwood has been involved in the music industry for the past six years, producing music and performing DJ sets across the world. He also ran a social enterprise for disadvantaged children in the local area, giving them a chance to learn music and DJ skills.

Opening his own pizza shop had always been a dream of Stephen’s but it wasn’t until the covid-19 pandemic hit, leaving him with more time on hands, that he decided to take the leap. As the social enterprise was forced to shut, and gigs came to a halt, Stephen used online tutorials to turn his passion for food into a new business venture.

After mastering his dough-making skills, Mr Kirkwood found a shop in Dumbarton and opened Bangin’ Pizza on Boxing Day 2020.

As well as producing authentic Italian pizzas, the business has been working to support its local community. It is now the official sponsor of its local football team, Dumbarton Football Club, and using its connections with nearby schools, Bangin’ Pizza now offers training in pizza-making for young people in the community.

Now, Bangin’ Pizza has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2021 awards, which celebrate the small and local businesses across the UK. The business was selected in recognition of its success during the pandemic and how Stephen has gone above and beyond within the local community.

As part of the win, Bangin’ Pizza has won a mentoring session with Kanya King, founder of the MOBO Awards. Kanya will provide insight and support to help Bangin’ Pizza grow the business in the coming years and continue supporting its local community.

Already employing eight full time staff, including Stephen’s mum, and four drivers, Stephen plans to open even more shops in areas which he believes lack options for high-quality pizzas.

Stephen Kirkwood said: “I’ve been in the music industry for years and a massive foodie. I’ve had the plans to open a pizza place of my own for years, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I put these plans into action.

“We always used to go into Glasgow for decent pizza as we didn’t feel there were many choices here in Dumbarton. Spending a lot of time on YouTube taught me that I could make really good pizza, so I thought ‘why not give this a go?’

“We created a place where you can eat great food and listen to some ‘bangin’ tunes’ and we have lots of ambition to grow over the next few years. I’d like Bangin’ Pizza to eventually be across Scotland and for people to know that what we offer is as good as what you’d expect when you visit Italy.”

Paul Gordon, managing director of SME and Mid Corporates at Lloyds Bank, added: “Stephen’s story is really inspiring. He’s taken his passion for music and food and merged them together to create a business model that can be expanded and introduced to other towns across Scotland.

“Despite the challenges of last year, Stephen’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to build a successful business, and this alone is why Bangin’ Pizza is so deserving of this award.”

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