Since BiBa’s Italian Restaurant in Gainesville closed in 2012, owner Jeremy Green has wanted to make his way back to the city he said he loves.
Green’s wish came true when he signed the lease Aug. 23 on the recently-closed Little Italy Pizzeria on Riverside Drive. Green will be bringing his own pizzeria, Sliced, which already has locations in Hoschton and Commerce, hoping to offer a new pizzeria experience for the community to enjoy by Dec. 1.
“I saw the opportunity, so I jumped on it,” Green said. “It looked like a great spot for what we were trying to do.”
Sliced will offer New York-style pizza in a store with a “very different kind of vibe.” Many pizza shops have veered away from the traditional Italian decor and Sliced is no different. Green said his restaurant has more of an “antiquey vibe” with pallet wood on the walls, barn tin throughout and hand-made tables of salvaged barn wood from his business partner, Josh Tedder’s, family farm in Savannah.
Green said it’s more of a “rustic” atmosphere.
“If you imagine a typical pizzeria, that’s not what we are,” Green said. “We don’t have the red-and-white checkered stuff, the fake leaves hanging above the counter with the Sinatra music. It’s not your Italian grandma’s kitchen.”
Sliced tries to keep things simple. Its menu has three appetizers, three salads, four sandwiches and multiple pizza options. It’s not cluttered and Green said the ingredients are always top-notch.
“I buy the best cheese money can buy and I find the best tomatoes we can possibly get,” he said.
Sliced also prides itself on its craft beer selection. Though not a bar, it offers plenty of local beer choices from places like Athens, Atlanta and Green hopes soon from Left Nut Brewing Co. and Braselton Brewing Co.
“If it’s a local brewery, we always support it,” Green said.
Typically, he likes to have his shops in downtown areas. The location on Riverside Drive is close enough to downtown Gainesville, though, on a road traveled daily by countless residents and next to City Park Stadium.
“It sounds cliche, but this location totally chose me,” Green said. “You’re not just a restaurant serving food, especially at this location here. I mean you’re literally part of the community. ... That’s what we like.”
That the new location was already equipped to make pizza didn’t make much of a difference to Green. And though it wasn’t run down, was fairly clean and hadn’t been unused for long, he said it will still need a good bit of work to bring it up to the Sliced brand.
Green said when people walk in, they won’t be able to tell it used to be Little Italy. It will be completely renovated, which could take a while, but he’s hoping to have it completed before his Dec. 1 goal.
Competition isn’t much of a concern for Green. He said Atlas Pizza downtown has its “location going for them right there” and Mellow Mushroom is an entirely different style.
“It’s literally not in the same realm,” Green said. “It’s very different than what we do.”
As renovations get underway and Gainesville gains yet another food establishment, Green couldn’t be happier to again become a part of the community. He’s back in the place he loves doing what he loves: serving up slice after slice.
“Gainesville is great,” Green said. “I really can’t say enough good things about wanting to come back. It’s definitely something I wanted to do in the future if the right thing came along, and it seems like it did.”