NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Slim & Husky’s has a story baked into history, starting with pizza.
For the last eight years, a group of men has sparked change throughout Nashville. Their humble beginnings started in a garage and grew into the successful, Slim & Husky’s.
“We tell people we’re not just a pizza company. It’s pizza, art, and music,” said Clint Gray, one of the owners.
Slim & Husky’s has made its mark, as the first black-owned business to sit on Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Growing up, we never saw a minority business, an African American business, scale to what we’re doing today, and so it’s very important for us to be able to show those coming after us, the possibilities of what can be,” explained Gray.
However, in order to look towards the future, sometimes it’s important to remember the past.
Slim & Husky’s was founded on a shared dream inside a garage in 2015, by three men. Tennessee State University graduates, Derrick Moore, Emanuel Reed, and Clint Gray followed through on a vision.
“When we first started Slim & Husky’s, you know we had big dreams of having a large-scale restaurant, only because it wasn’t our first entrepreneurship,” explained Gray.
The name came from a joke the longtime friends have been laughing about for years. One of them has always been a slim guy, but the other two were always big fellas, forcing their mothers to shop for clothing in the children’s husky section.
The company initially started as a moving company. The group continued to work together for seven years. Then they sold it and decided to invest in Slim & Husky’s.
Inside a small garage on Buchanan Street, known to them as the “Mad Pizza Science Lab”, the group of friends would spend hours and days creating and finalizing the product.
“It was a former mechanic’s garage so it was very makeshift. We had to make it happen,” Gray said.
The garage would soon become not only a place to create, but also get community feedback. Grey remembered the early days of the business. “We even had a community neighborhood meeting at the garage at one point to where all the neighbors came in, and they became our testers for our pizza and also talked about some of the neighborhood issues.”
FIFTH + BROADWAY
The groups success didn’t stop there as they turned their attention to opening their first brick and mortar restaurant.
“To be honest, we looked all over the city, you know, we looked in all the popular areas from 12 South to 5 Points,” remembered Gray. “Nothing really felt like it had as much purpose as us putting our restaurant where it was needed the most, and that was on Buchanan Street.”
In the heart of North Nashville, Slim & Husky’s was officially born. However, they didn’t stop there.
“Opening here on Broadway, you know it wasn’t just a major event for us, I think it was a major event for all African Americans within Nashville,” Gray said.
Slim & Husky’s now sits in the center of 5th and Broad, solidifying history as the first Black-owned business on Broadway.
“The celebration of opening Fifth and Broadway just resonated throughout African American culture here on what’s to come, and obviously to show the city, ‘hey it’s been too long, we shouldn’t be a first in 2021’,” said Gray.
The ground breaking ceremony offered a big change downtown, which has been dominated by country music and honky tonks.
“Nashville’s not just a one-trick pony,” explained Grey. “I didn’t understand the perception of Nashville looking in, until I got to college and started meeting others that was coming from other places and they viewed Nashville as just this country music town, thought we all walked around wearing boots and cowboy hats and there’s another story to tell. That’s the story of hardworking citizens that come together during times of things like the flood, things like the tornados, to continue to rebuild our city, and make it what it is, and that’s a melting pot.”
Building on their success, all three are now focused on their future of going beyond pizza. They have been able to create their own slice of urban music and a stomping ground for new ideas.
“It’s called PRM, it stands for Pure Relentless Manifestation. It’s a merchandise brand that surrounds our story as entrepreneurs, making something out of nothing, and knowing that if you can just manifest it, believe in it, work towards it, you can reach your goals,” said Gray.
The group hosts live music shows for emerging artists, opening more brick and mortars from California to Austin, Texas, focusing on retail, and expanding with frozen pizza options online and in stores.