It’s not a big surprise that we hardly ever eat out when we go out discovering new Frugal Florida Fun, but we decided to make an exception in this case. One of our readers suggested we checkout Satchel’s Pizza in Gainesville, so when we were in the area at the Farm and Forest Festival we decided to check it out on the way home. What we discovered surprised us! We located a fun, quirky, delicious place that we would have never stopped in to visit had we not had the personal recommendation.
So what exactly is Satchel’s Pizza? Well it’s a goofy kinda mix of a local pizza joint, bar, bocce ball court, junk shop, playground and museum. Seriously it’s all of those combined! At first I was reluctant to stop by, as the building looked like it was right out of a sitcom, but I was happy we did! For a Saturday afternoon the place seemed like it was packed, but the parking was a bit deceiving. Don’t get me wrong, they were hopping, but if you see a full lot, find a spot and park it’s worth it!
So as we headed into the restaurant, we noticed an old beat up looking van parked right out front. Not thinking anything about it, I figured it was just part of the theme. As it turns out you could actually dine inside the van! Talk about awesome delivery service! Satchel’s Pizza features all sorts of quirky little nooks to eat in. In addition to the van, they have a porch like area, garden dining, as well as a few surprise dining spots I’ll tell you about later. The hostess stand is located right outside the front door, and every inch of space seems to have a very well thought out purpose.
We only had to wait a few minutes, and while we were waiting for a table we soaked up the atmosphere of Satchel’sPizza. Once inside we were shocked to find a rather small dining area with maybe 10 to 15 tables . Each of them were different! That’s right, nothing seemed to match! The entire dining room was filled with knick nacks, and chotchkeys (sp? it’s a Polish word my Grandmother always used to describe miscellaneous stuff.). Just like the entire building, Satchel’s Pizza appears to have added the tables over time and they probably came from yard sales, thrift shops, and probably even the side of the road. Don’t worry though, they are all very nice in their own way and extremely clean. It is still a restaurant remember.
After checking out the menu, we noticed you could get all sorts of awesome toppings from carrots to jalapeños! Nothing was really out of the ordinary, but they had some awesome options like feta cheese and basil. Stuff you wouldn’t normally see at a pizza place in addition to your standard Italian favorites. After we ordered a a few slices and a PB&J calzone (pepperoni, beef and jalapeños), we saw some folks that ordered what appeared to be a delicious looking salad. We probably should have gone the healthy way out, but we were all in that Saturday! While the waiter was walking away, I thought he was texting on his phone. I thought that was odd, but didn’t mention anything. It turns out that Satchel’s Pizza uses an electronic ordering system. They aren’t texting each other I promise.
As we waited on our food we noticed something that was very strange for any restaurant, none the less a pizza place.. All of the wait staff helped everyone! They seemed to have assigned tables and areas, but if someone saw an empty cup, BAM! “Would you like a refill? What were you drinking?” The service was incredible! As it turns out, we learned from the menu that they all split their tips equally so that’s probably why everyone was so helpful. It was odd at first, but then rather awesome that they all chipped in to provide excellent service. After researching Satchel’s Pizza, their owner claims a %50 labor cost which is absolutely unheard of in the restaurant industry! For those not in the business, this shows their commitment to a great service experience. By the way, we even had a stack of plates delivered to us by a random waiter. No big surprise here, but they didn’t match either, but it was still fun.
So what other neat things did we discover on the Satchel’s Pizza menu? How about this: They don’t accept credit cards! Strange for a restaurant in a college town right? They do have a solution and it makes perfect sense. They actually have an ATM in the hallway with a slight convenience charge of $1.50. Money making opportunity for them right? WRONG! Sort of… Most folks don’t realize that credit card companies charge a percentage of the transaction, so basically they have to fork over a small portion of revenue from each credit card swipe. Instead of paying the credit card companies, they encourage guests to use the ATM machine. So they are still making $1.50 right? WRONG! Satchel’s Pizza donates the transactions charges to local charities, so it’s benefiting the local community and saving them money at the same time.
I only wish we lived closer to Satchel’s Pizza when my wife was struck with morning sickness! Not for the food this time, but instead for the soda! They actually make their own soda mixes on site and have all sorts of classic favorites from cola to root beer, and even ginger ale. I tried a few of them, and the ginger ale is really good. My wife said it would have been the best thing to help with her morning sickness. I wonder if they actually have pregnant women come in all the time just for a soda?
Ok so now on the food. How was it? Was it good? Absolutely not. Satchel’s Pizza is MIND BLOWINGLY AWESOME! Now I don’t mean to brag, but I have had my fair share of pizza in my life. Actual real New York style pizza from New York City, I make home made pizza myself, and have even worked in multiple Italian pizzerias in my younger years. Simply nothing compares to Satchel’s Pizza. I don’t say this lightly, and in a way it’s kinda sad, as now when I eat pizza locally it will just leave me wanting Satchel’s Pizza instead. (This is the same problem I had with BBQ ribs but that is a different story all together.) There wasn’t a single person in the place that seemed disappointed. How can people live so close to such awesomeness and not go every day?
So if this was all I experienced that day, I would have been able to make the 2.5 hour drive home as a happy man. It gets better. So while we were there, we notice people checking out these old school View Masters. We saw a few on the wall, and kids playing with them in the restaurant. We didn’t think anything of it until one of the wait staff asked if we would like dessert. We rarely hit up restaurants, so we figured while we were at it, we might as well go all out. The waitress handed us a dessert menu and a View Master. I swear to you this was the coolest thing ever. Their delicious looking apple crumble cheese cake, cookies and canolis were all viewable in 3D! Satchel’s Pizza actually had the slides custom made.
After drooling on the View Master, we were treated to the very best cannoli, cookie, and an apple crumb cheesecake bar. Now we were ready for the check. So how much would all this cost us? Around $40 with tip, but remember we had pizza, a calzone, desserts, and drinks. You could easily scale down by purchasing an entire pizza, and skipping a few of the extras. We were only 2.5 people so with a family of four we would probably get a while pie. I’m usually the cheapest person on the planet, but Satchel’s Pizza was worth every penny!
After we packed up the little guy we decided to explore a bit more. The building seems to have been added on to over the years, and multiple sections have a different feel and atmosphere. In the Satchel’s Pizza store for example, you can pickup some touristy type “Florida” stuff, or even bacon bandaids! As we continued on, there is a bar area where they host live entertainment. Your little ones won’t want to miss the two playgrounds on premise. If dining in a van isn’t fun enough for the family how about in a treehouse or even under a plane? That’s right there are more quirky tables right along side a bocce ball court. Be sure to checkout some of the sculptures in the parking lot as well as the various collections of items. They have everything from floppy disks to light bulbs!
So what is the overall impression of Satchel’s Pizza? Well in addition to ruining pizza for me for the rest of my life, (other pizza just pales in comparison) we had a great time exploring this quirky location with excellent customer service, and top notch food. If you are in the area, or even outside of the area, you’ll want to checkout Satchel’s Pizza. It can be done cheaper than we did, but if you’re looking for an indulgence, this is it! Oh and just for the record, this was a completely unsolicited review. They had no idea we were coming, and they didn’t know we were going to do a write up.
Satchel’s Pizza Details:
|Date(s):||Closed Sun & Monday||Time(s):||11am to 10pm|
|Address:||1800 NE 23rd Ave Gainesville Fl|
|Estimated Cost For A Family of 4:||At lest $35 (4
Sodas And 4 Slices)
|Online Menu: http://www.satchelspizza.com/swf/menu.html|