When Jeremy Green opened Sliced in Gainesville last year, he had a good idea it would be successful. He’d tried it out in a couple different markets — he owns locations in Hoschton and Commerce — but wasn’t sure exactly what to expect in the new spot on Riverside Drive.
“You couldn't differentiate from a Friday night or a Monday lunch,” Green, co-owner of Sliced with his friend Josh Tedder, said of the first few months of business. “It was crazy.”
It wasn’t uncommon to have an hour or more wait for just a carry-out pizza in the early days. Since then, things have steadied and settled down.
But that doesn’t mean Green is settling in his pizza dreams.
One year after opening the Gainesville location, he’s a few months away from opening his first Sliced franchise in Oakwood in what used to be a bank in the Robson Crossing shopping center.
“This will be the first Sliced that has an actual bar,” Green said. “It's going to be sweet.”
Breaking back into Hall County’s restaurant scene for the former Biba’s Italian Restaurant owner was always the hope, and now that Green has seen such success in his first year with Sliced in Gainesville, expanding in Hall is now his reality.
“I wasn't looking to do that,” Green said of his first franchise. “It just happened.”
He said the simple concept he’s kept at Sliced has made it such a success. There are plenty of other pizza options around town, but focusing on just a few things is how he’s made sure everything is up to par.
“It's just simple, but it's done the best way, in my opinion, it can be done,” Green said.
Whenever Ben Stout drives to Gainesville from where he lives in Clermont, he makes sure to stop and grab a bite from Sliced. He likes the toppings that come on his pizza and the ingredients in his Greek salad. He said he can tell it’s not like the ingredients at larger businesses.
“Mellow Mushroom is pretty good, but I still like this pizza better,” Stout said while sitting at a table with a slice of pizza topped with pepperoni, artichokes, mushrooms and sliced garlic. “The crust and everything, like I said, the ingredients are good. It’s not like a chain restaurant.”
He likes Sliced because the pizza is “just more authentic” than what he’s tried at other places.
Part of the reason he enjoys it so much may have to do with Green’s culinary background. After culinary school, he had dreams of working in Napa Valley with Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. So he bounced around some fine dining restaurants and learned technique after technique. Now, he imparts all he learned into each pizza.
“I was kind of a froufrou chef for a long time, which is probably why I don't cut any corners now, because of the way I've learned to do what I do,” Green said.
At Sliced, they use Bacio mozzarella cheese, which is made with a blend of cow’s milk and buffalo milk. He said it has the perfect stretch when it’s melted and a slice is slowly pulled away from the whole pie. It stays the right color while cooking, too.
He said there are cheeses that they could use that are less expensive, but to him, that doesn’t matter. He’s in it for the quality.
“The tomatoes, they're imported from Italy,” Green said. “They’re picked twice a year at the perfect time. At their peak, there's nothing added to them, there's no citric acid added to them.”
He could choose to go with cheaper tomatoes that are grown and picked year-round, but those have citric acid added to the can when they’re packaged in an effort to make them taste right.
And when he’s using high-quality tomatoes for the pizza sauce at Sliced, he doesn’t skimp on the olive oil.
“A lot of people probably couldn't taste it the difference, but I can,” Green said. “So if I can tell, there's going to be some people that can tell, too.”
The most popular pizzas at his Gainesville location are the Margherita pizza which comes topped with mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, roma tomatoes and an olive oil drizzle and the Ol Clifford, which comes topped with pepperoni, sausage, ham, meatballs and bacon.
Danny Tarver gets the same thing every time he stops by: Two slices topped with sausage. He lives about a block from Sliced, so he makes the trip pretty frequently.
“They sell slices,” Tarver said while sitting near the register, waiting on his own slices to-go. “I’m single and I don’t have kids, so I don’t want to buy a whole pizza. Even though I could definitely eat a whole pizza.”
Just like Tarver likes his pizza simple, Green has always kept the menu at Sliced simple. There are three simple salads, four sandwiches, build-your-own calzones and pizza on the menu.
“If you want to eat here two or three times a week, which we have a lot of customers that do that, you don't have to eat the same thing over and over,” Green said. “Even though it's a small, simple menu, I feel like we have a lot to offer.”