Music City is quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing tourist cities in the world. People coming from across the country for their bachelorette parties and more recently, more than 600,000 people flooded Nashville for the NFL Draft. The profile of Nashville is steadily on the rise. “New Nashville” is how many locals refer to this growth and boost in tourism, but what if we could retain some of the feel and taste of “old” Nashville, especially in the Black communities here?
Black restaurants like Swett’s, Prince’s and Silver Sands are names everyone recognizes if you are from Nashville or have lived here long enough to travel beyond the Gulch, 12South, and Germantown. Their names have local prominence and provide an authentic Nashville experience. While the profile of Nashville keeps expanding, there is one popular place that is growing larger and larger every day while continuing to keep their sense of community. That place, you may ask, is Slim and Husky’s Pizza Beeria.
“We have been on CBS World News, USA Today did something on us, Pickler and Ben talk show, Food Paradise on Travel Channel and Good Morning America.” Said Nashville native Clint Gray III, one of the owners of Slim & Husky’s.
The trio started Slim and Husky’s just a few years ago and ever since they first opened their doors on Buchanan Street, people have been coming to get their pizza by the droves, bringing them tons of attention. They crafted their recipe for success while carefully crafting their tasty pizzas, but the vision of where they needed to start their business and what they wanted to be was given to them in one random trip.
“We looked at a lot of different areas in Nashville originally and some of those areas were affluent areas and very popular. Then we took a trip to Harlem randomly and we got a chance to witness Black businesses in neighborhoods and when we got back home, we decided we wanted to put our store in a place we felt was underserved and in North Nashville, Buchanan was that street that we chose. We wanted to bring that livelihood back.”
Of course, their decision was met with some criticism at first.
“People said we were crazy to open it up because of crime there and because there wasn’t much going on. It wasn’t looked upon as a great idea, but we had faith that we would create an atmosphere that could revitalize that community.”
Flash forward to now and allure of Slim and Husky’s in North Nashville has brought people from all over the place to them, making intentional visits to Buchanan Street to visit their first location, which has a unique brand of hip-hop flavor and pizza.
“We have had people from all over. Everywhere from Alaska to New Zealand. That’s one of the best experiences to speak to someone that is visiting Nashville from another country that stops in to see us. I think the story with CBS News really put us in the global eye and people saw that from all over the world and some of the people have come to check us out.”
As for the media love, Clint was humble yet realizes the responsibility of what they are doing.
“It’s a very humbling feeling and we are just appreciative that the media believes in our concept from pizza to community. It’s a very humbling responsibility and it creates a sense of responsibility to continue to be creative and a sense of integrity to grow our business. “
Above the visits and fame, the biggest thing Slim & Husky’s has done is started a movement. Following Slim & Husky’s move to Buchanan Street, Minerva Avenue Cocktail Bar has moved in on Buchanan Street and soon Willie B’s Daiquiri bar. But in true humble fashion, they don’t want to be credited for the movement, but only see it has them being rooted where they were supposed to start.
“We are excited about that growth and excited about the businesses that are already here and the ones that are coming to the area that benefit the community. We really don’t stake our claim to starting all that growth. We just like to say we planted a seed and we are happy to see the growth. People can shop in their own neighborhood, walk down the street and get employment in their own neighborhoods. We hope that the other businesses take the same approach so that communities can be self-sufficient and continue to grow internally.”
As a result of the popularity of Slim & Husky’s, they have expanded to Atlanta, where they have one location and another one on the way and will be expanding to Memphis as well. Along with those two new cities, there will be a third one coming to Nashville and it will be in a very special location, 5th and Broadway. For those that are not aware, this location will be in the same complex as the National Museum of African-American Music, which opens in 2020.
“We are going to be in the same complex as the National Museum of African-American Music on 5th and Broadway in Nashville and we have an official partnership with them. We have some things in the works.“
Slim & Husky’s could eventually be coming to a city near you, but as far as their staple in the North Nashville community and the chance they took on Buchanan Street, they have now entrenched themselves in Nashville as the Founding Fathers of the new Buchanan Street. Along with those slices of pizza, they are also serving up life, community, and love while making a difference.