Sometimes, the most bizarre combinations of things can produce the most wonderful result. Satchel’s Pizza, primarily a pizza shop, is also a live music venue, art gallery, greenhouse, toy store, and more. Established 17 years ago on the east side of Gainesville, Satchel’s Pizza has captured Gainesville’s heart and became one of the most popular places in town. After one visit, you’ll easily understand why their pizza is just one of the many things that attract people from all over Gainesville to this delicious and unique pizzeria.
Wade McMullen, general manager for nearly a decade here at Satchel’s, gave me the inside scoop on what it’s like to work at one of the most unique places in town. Starting as a server, his work at Satchel’s has transformed into a successful career at one of the hottest restaurants in Gainesville.
Sitting under the shade of their greenhouse/dining area, McMullen shared Satchel’s story with me. Satchel Raye’s authentic approach to running a business reflects in both his restaurant and artwork through and through. As authentic and interesting as Satchel’s Pizza seems, it’s a reflection of the fascinating character that Satchel Raye is himself. With a long history of working in the pizza industry, he always knew he wanted to open his own pizzeria. Without sacrificing his love for creating art, Satchel’s Pizza was born and now serves Gainesville as one of the most popular restaurants/art galleries.
“Satchel always says he’s an artist first and a pizza maker second.”
With handmade stained glass windows, hand-painted murals, and mosaic tiles covering the restaurant’s walls, Satchel has found the perfect way to combine his love of pizza and art into one. When asked to describe Satchel’s, Mcmullen says, “It’s a place that every time you wander around, you find something new. That’s Satchel’s goal.” Even Mcmullen, who works at the restaurant every day, will often find a new art installation or restaurant decor he never noticed before.
The plethora of repurposed items throughout the property are not only a sight to see but come with some very interesting stories to hear. McMullen recounted the story behind the plane on the roof of Satchel’s,
“It was on the side of the road on the way to Ginnie Springs. They just threw it on a truck and stuck it up there on a Sunday.”
The iconic van in the front of the store was once Satchel’s very own mode of transportation to and from the restaurant. Now, it’s one of the staples of the restaurant and a well-known treasure in Gainesville.
“At this point, that van is kind of iconic in Gainesville, people say that before you graduate, you have to eat in the van.”
On the weekends, you can find Satchel and his trusted crew of employees working hard in the kitchen, busting out pizzas, calzones, homemade sodas, and their famous salad recipe. And while they’re adjusting to COVID-safe regulations, Satchel’s still remains true to their goal of giving back to their community and to their mission of “make great food in a beautiful atmosphere and serve up something for all the senses.”
Satchel’s long-standing history of only accepting cash was an ingenious way to donate proceeds from their ATM to local charities. With COVID-19 affecting their business and customer’s willingness to use cash, Satchel’s now accepts online payments through Byppo. By partnering with Byppo, Satchel’s is still able to work with a local business and give customers a way to order food in a quick, safe, and easy way.
“One of the reasons we’ve been so enthusiastic about working with Byppo is because it’s a local business. That’s kind of the idea: to keep it within Gainesville as much as we can.”
If you’re a fan of Satchel’s, you can now also visit their new storefront, Satch², located in 4th Ave Food Park. Serving square Detroit-style pizzas and waffles, this pizzeria is a product of Satchel’s experimentation with a new deep-dish pizza style and a desire to continue serving the Gainesville community. Satch² opened about 4 months ago, mid-pandemic, but offers the perfect pick-up-and-go serving style with outdoor seating.
From the ground up, Satchel’s has established itself as one of the most well-known and loved spots in town. Perfect for snapping your next IG post, enjoying the work of local artists, and eating some delicious pizza.