How am I going to make this work?” Sammy Mandell thought to himself. He had poured everything into starting Greenville Avenue Pizza Company on Lowest Greenville. He worked 90-hour weeks, often running the place by himself just to break even.
Mandell would take orders, ring up the customers, head back to the kitchen to make the salad then serve it before baking the pizza. Deliveries ran until 3 or 4 a.m.
He didn’t have money to pay for his car, which was repossessed. He struggled so much to make his mortgage payments that the bank came to take pictures of his home. His friends and future wife moved into the home to help him keep the house.
Mandell kept at it. “Failure was not an option,” he says.
Today, he is an award-winning entrepreneur and community advocate who has one of the longest standing restaurants on Lowest Greenville. He recently opened a second location at Garland and Peavy.
Mandell sees himself as an entrepreneur first, restaurateur second. After graduating from Bryan Adams in 2001 and enduring a short-lived serving career at Chili’s, Mandell began to buy ATMs and install them in bars around Dallas.
When he saw a place open for rent and realized there wasn’t a pizza place open late to accompany the bustling nightlife on Greenville, he saw an opportunity. “How is there not pizza by the slice?” he asked himself. Greenville Avenue Pizza Company (GAPCo) was born.
Between 2007 and 2013, business was replete with hazards. Construction on Greenville made GAPCo inaccessible. As soon as that ended, a change in zoning caused several of the bars to leave the area, reducing GAPCo’s target customer.
“I had dumped everything into it,” Mandell says. “This couldn’t fail or I would completely go down with it.”
Just in time, things began to improve. The zoning change brought new businesses and restaurants, and an interior remodel and rebranding began to pay dividends.
GAPCo calls its employees “pizza slayers.” Mandell patented a holster to hold the pizza tools of the trade. The restaurant has an active YouTube channel, and a friend recorded a song called “Pizza Man” for customers who are on hold. “We want to show people our journey and our story along the way,” he says. “And bring people into that craziness.”
Mandell shares his success. He offers health benefits to his employees, and each location works to support local Dallas ISD schools and community events. His work won him Pizza Today’s Entrepreneur of the Year award this year.
The second location is just a few pizza tosses from Mandell’s childhood neighborhood. “I wanted to bring the success of GAPCo to the area that made me who I am today.”
Did you know: When Greenville construction blocked access to the restaurant, GAPCo built a sidewalk out of pizza boxes for guests.
Greenville Avenue Pizza Company
Ambience: Late night ‘za
Price Range: $8-$30
Hours: 11-3 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11-4 a.m. Friday and Saturday;
11-1 a.m. Monday (Greenville);
11-1 a.m. daily (Peavy)
Address: 1923 Greenville Ave. and 1145 Peavy Road
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