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That Van is Supposed to Be There

Large Inline Text Satchel's Pizza
Photo courtesy of Satchel's Pizza


According to Satchel’s Pizza in Gainesville, Florida, “Every pizza is a work of art.” Looking around the restaurant property, from the mosaic tile work to the metal sculptures adorning the parking lot, the art transcends more than just the pizza.

Since opening in 2003, Satchel’s has grown from a small pizza place on the outskirts of town to a landmark in Gainesville. The menu is simple, with only pizza, calzones and salads to choose from, but with more than 30 toppings available and the option to switch between deep dish and thin crust, the pizza possibilities are endless, and visitors often take pride in creating something new. And then there’s the house-made sodas, flavors such as “Lola’s Cola” and “Stevie Z Cal.”

But locals don’t just come here for the pizza and pop. The atmosphere is full of life, with a gift shop offering classic childhood toys, a treehouse overlooking an outdoor bocce ball court, and an old blue van parked permanently in the front yard, serving as extra seating.

“I drove the van for 10 years and soon after opening we needed more tables,” says owner Stephen “Satchel” Raye. “The van was empty, so I thought, ‘Why not put a booth in it?’ For the first six months, I would drive the van to work and wait for people to be done eating so I could drive it home. Eventually I got a new vehicle and decided to make the van a permanent table.”

Overcoming a fire two years ago, the van is an example of how well Satchel’s evolves and changes itself as time demands. Thriving on both growth and the desire to constantly create, Satchel’s is sure to remain a favorite in Gainesville.

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