Mar 17, 2023 - Food and Drink

Slim & Husky's national reach gets James Beard recognition

A delicious pizza.

Photo: Alison Carmona Rau

As the founders of Slim & Husky's receive national accolades and expand their community-minded pizza concept across the country, it's staggering to consider the chain has only been around six years.

Flashback: Former Tennessee State University roommates Clinton Gray, Derrick Moore and Emanuel Reed launched Slim & Husky's to jumpstart development on Buchanan Street, which had become a shadow of its former self.

  • Not only did they attract businesses back to Buchanan — the street their parents remembered as a vibrant corridor for African American business people — the fast-casual Slim & Husky's concept has swept across the nation.
  • In addition to their Nashville operations, they opened stores in Atlanta, Chattanooga, Memphis and Sacramento.

Why it matters: The trio was recognized earlier this year as a semifinalist for the James Beard award for outstanding restaurateur. Slim & Husky's has become one of Nashville's most notable restaurant success stories to expand outside Music City.

Zoom out: Recognition for Slim & Husky's comes as the James Beard Foundation is increasingly shining a light on fast-casual restaurants. Barbecue joints such as Atlanta's Heirloom Market and Charleston's Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ have earned nominations.

  • Last year's national winner for outstanding restaurant was Asheville's Indian street food concept Chai Pani.

What he's saying: "We're just honored to be lined up side-by-side with some of the best kitchens from across the world," Gray says.

  • "We wanted to show that African American young males could scale something as long as we're working together and giving back to our community," he says. "Did I think we would scale as fast as we have? I can't say that. But I did know we wanted to build something that was more than a one-stop, mom-and-pop operation."

Be smart: Read this 2017 Tennessean story about Slim & Husky's early beginnings.


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