"When we bought the building that is now Sidewall Pizza in Traveler's Rest, we had very different plans for what we thought it was going to be".
It was a Sunday afternoon when we met with Andy & Loren for lunch in downtown Greenville. We ordered from the brunch menu at The Green Room on Main Street.
"Really? You didn't purchase that property knowing you were going to open up the best pizza place in Greenville?" we asked.
Both Andy & Loren smiled. "NO! And it actually gets crazier than that. We had been traveling on the road for a few months, living out of an Airstream - well, we still do - but two years ago, that was our home & transportation. We came through Greenville to visit friends & it occurred to us that this would be a great place to move Andy's company." Loren said.
"Right, I was working for Merrimack Canoes at the time & we thought it would be really cool to have a canoe shop on Main Street in Traveler's Rest." said Andy.
"Well, one thing led to another & it just wasn't the best fit." said Loren. "We still had the property but were stuck on what to do with it. We parked our Airstream in the parking lot in what is now the original Sidewall in Traveler's Rest & for three months we brainstormed. We walked around the property, we slept on the floors, we worked out in the building - we were STUCK! Until one day, it occurred to us that there was no pizza restaurants in the Traveler's Rest area."
"So why the name "Sidewall"? How did you come up with that?" Ryland asked.
"The building was originally a tire store, so we listed out all the parts of a tire & picked "sidewall" as our favorite. We like it because it's the old & the new coming together by using that as our store name." said Andy.
"We just wanted a place that people could come & feel comfortable any time of the day, for lunch or dinner, pull up a chair & enjoy time together. We love the relaxed atmosphere, that kids can play & dogs can come. And, who doesn't love pizza & ice cream? It's a meal that brings everyone together!" said Loren.
And just like that, our favorite pizza place was born. A place where we, the Rainsfords, always have a place at the table. We can bring any of our friends, sit at a picnic table or grab a stool at the bar & enjoy the evening.
Both locations are conveniently located off of the Swamp Rabbit Trail - this makes grabbing dinner or a quick drink on the go an easy task! When you pull into Sidewall's parking lot, you feel the community atmosphere all at once. Children are laughing, families are sharing picnic tables with one another, people are coming to grab a drink with a friend - it feels like a neighborhood block party more than a restaurant. But what we cherish most about this place is the way that Andy & Loren make it a point to know the customers that come through their doors.
We sat at the bar one evening enjoying a pizza & beer together & watched as Andy high-fived & said hello to the customers coming in.
"Man!" remarked Ryland, "He really knows everyone around here!"
The more the evening went on, we realized that Andy does know everyone around Traveler's Rest & downtown Greenville, but more importantly, his customers want to keep coming back because they feel known & loved.
Andy & Loren, thank you for wanting to know & love us. Thank you for making a space for community and friendships to be built. We have learned so much from you both already and are sincerely grateful to have examples like you both going before us in the world of small business!