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The Inked Pig is going whole hog on a one-year celebration in midtown Gainesville
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Jimmy Ellis walks down the bar at The Inked Pig on Tuesday, Feb. 11, in Gainesville. The restaurant is celebrating one year in business on Saturday. - photo by Nick Bowman

Many pigs were harmed in the making of this restaurant.

And that’s not a problem for the good people of Gainesville as The Inked Pig hits its one-year anniversary on Feb. 15. To celebrate, owners Andrew Elliott and Jimmy Ellis are smoking a whole hog and some Texas ribs with live music in the parking lot of the midtown restaurant.

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The Inked Pig is celebrating one year in business on Saturday, Feb. 15. The off-the-beaten-path barbecue restaurant has made a go of it in midtown Gainesville in the former Big Bear Cafe location. With a year done, the owners are making plans for the future. - photo by Nick Bowman

“Honestly, it's been a really good year,” Elliott said, standing behind the bar in the restaurant. “We've made a lot of big things happen. Word’s getting out, people are excited about us. The community has really accepted us.”

At the one-year anniversary party, which begins at 1:30 p.m on Feb. 15, local musicians Johnny Summers and Ted Tuck will play live music until 4 p.m. Jim Asbell will play from 4 to 7 p.m. and Edwin Hughs and Iris Romero will finish out the night spinning some vinyl.

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Jimmy Ellis, co-owner of The Inked Pig. - photo by Nick Bowman
The Inked Pig has made its mark in midtown, pulling in crowds down Main Street from Tuesday to Sunday. Ellis, who’s the man behind the smokers out back, said when it comes to the food they offer, they haven’t really had a flop. That especially goes for the specials they offer, which change just about every week.

“We’re having fun with it,” Ellis said. “Just trying to have fun, do new things and not be so repetitive all the time.”

Between the two of them, they have more than 30 years of restaurant experience. All of that experience has come in the kitchen, though, so starting up a restaurant has come with a bit of a learning curve.

The food in the back hasn’t been a problem, but the paperwork up front has occasionally been frustrating.

“I don't think you ever figure out a business,” Elliott said. “I think there's always something to learn.”

That red tape didn’t stop them from going full-force into the restaurant ownership business. They completely remodeled the place, which has held up well after a year of customers and barbecue sauce. Even out near the train tracks, almost a mile away from the Gainesville square, Elliott knew what they were starting would be successful because of the experience between the two.

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Andrew Elliott, co-owner of The Inked Pig. - photo by Nick Bowman
“I mean, he can cook.” Elliott said. “I knew that we wouldn't have any issues with the food, but getting people in the door would be the issue.”

So they put in more hours than they can count, working at the restaurant — they try to have one day off during the week — and going to myriad events across Gainesville. They try not to turn down a catering, even if that means there’s more than one gig in a day.

The business has grown because of all that work and sweating in front of the smoker. And as midtown grows with The Inked Pig, Elliott and Ellis are happy to be at the front of the charge.

“The mindset when we started was, with everything growing down here, everything that's getting pushed down this direction, when it does happen, we're already an established cornerstone of our community down here,” Elliott said. “We're a well-established, recognized business down here.”

And that they are. In its next year of business, The Inked Pig is looking at extending its hours and possibly adding an extra day of service.

Elliott and Ellis are consistent fixtures in midtown now and after just a year, their food has come to be the same.

“You know if you come here, you're going to get a good meal,” Ellis said. “It doesn't have to be barbecue. It's just good food. That's what I want to be known as. I want to be known as a place that serves good food.”

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Since opening in 2019, The Inked Pig has rolled out a few changes to the midtown Gainesville restaurant, including beer taps. - photo by Nick Bowman
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