Talking pizza with Kevin Gartner
1. Tell us about Uncle Maddio's
Uncle Maddio’s delivers a gourmet pie that’s made fresh the way you want it, all within about 6 minutes. We provide a lot of choice for your pie. There are 3 types of crust in 4 different sizes. We have a traditional white crust, a whole wheat crust, and a gluten free crust - all made fresh daily. Our 48 different toppings include six different sauces, 27 vegetables and 15 meats. We offer locally sourced vegetables, hormone free chicken, and organic greens. Our extensive choices let you be as healthy or as decadent as you want. In addition to our pies we also offer gourmet salads and Panini sandwiches.
Our preparation time is well within the confines of a normal lunch period, which means people can now have their own pizza for lunch, rather than buying by the slice or sharing a pizza with someone else in a traditional pizza environment where it takes 20-30 minutes for a pizza to arrive at your table. Where pizza normally skews to the dinner meal, I think we’ll be 50-50 between lunch and dinner.
2. How do people react to all the choice you’re offering?
Some people love it right away while for others it can be overwhelming at first. We have both shiitake and white mushrooms for example. For someone who just wants mushrooms that’s another choice they have to make. But it opens up the opportunity to try something a little different and more interesting too.
When people come here for the first time they tend to order what they’ve always had, and we’re fine with that. We want people to be aware of the different possible combinations so we’ll give out samples of different pies to get people out of their comfort zones. Chef Alex has created a dozen specialty pies that put together interesting combinations of ingredients and a lot of people order these.
3. What are some examples of your specialty pies?
There’s a Jamaican Jerk Chicken, which is not too spicy but comes with a great flavor profile. If it wasn’t called out on our specialty menu, a lot of people wouldn’t notice it or think to try it out, but it’s my favorite pie. We also have a Buffalo Chicken pie that’s drizzled with hot sauce and ranch dressing. Our Steak and Blue pie starts with a crust that’s brushed with garlic-infused olive oil and then adds steak and blue cheese. It’s magnificent, and is another of my personal favorites as well as being our best selling specialty pie.
4. How many ingredients do people normally order?
The basic Build-Your-Own starts with 3 ingredients, although you can add to that as much as you’d like. When you’re picking from our list of 42 toppings you can start with any three of them - we don’t differentiate between the meats or vegetables.
5. You also have gluten free and vegan options ...
Yes. With so many options we can accommodate both. For those who want to eat vegan we even have a vegan cheese-alternative. We truly want to let everyone have the pie of their choice. If you’re eating with friends, one person can have an all-meat pie made on a traditional white crust while someone else eats whole wheat and vegan and another has a completely gluten free meal.
6. How do you prepare a pie in 6 minutes?
We have special ovens that are really hot. The dough has been created to rise and settle within that time. We also have all the ingredients laid out so we can prepare your pie while you’re ordering. The whole process is very efficient.
7. Your dough is prepared fresh daily?
Yes. So are the sauces and salad dressings. With the beef tenderloins we slice and trim them every day to ensure we’re only using the best, leanest parts of the tenderloin. We cook and chop our chicken and sausage daily as well. We have no freezers, no microwaves, and no deep fryers in the restaurant.
8. Can you tell us about your salads and Paninis?
Like our pizzas, our salads come in build-your-own and signature combinations. Our Orchard Chicken Salad, for example, comes with chicken, walnuts, raisins, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and celery in a honey lemonaise dressing served over baby organic spinach with raspberry vinaigrette - it’s my favorite salad! We also offer our Orchard Chicken Salad as a Panini with goat cheese. We also have an Eggplant Parmesan Panini and a Tuscan Meatball Panini. Our meatballs are fantastic. Chef Alex was born and raised in New York City where he had a restaurant in Little Italy for years. He brings that background to our meatball recipe and they’re dynamite, the best I’ve ever tasted.
9. Do you have desserts?
Yes. Our signature desserts include one from the deep South - a Coca-Cola Cake! We have an M&M’s Brownie and a Chocolate Chip Cookie, which we call the Love Cookie. Feeding off Chef Alex’s heritage from Little Italy we also have a Cannoli, which we bring in directly from New York.
10. Do you serve local craft beer?
We do serve draft beer but don’t have any local craft beers on tap yet, although it’s something we’d like to explore. We’ve been very focused on opening and I haven’t had the time to reach out to the local breweries but I do think local beer will be a good fit with Uncle Maddio’s.
11. Do you deliver?
Not for individual pies but we do offer catering and will deliver to the home for larger orders of $100 or more. Our main catering audience will be businesses and group events. We do offer take-and-bake style that people can take home and cook in a few minutes - it’s something I’ve done myself.
12. What does your motto “served with love” mean?
It reflects two things - that we want to be part of the fabric of the communities we’re in, and that we have a special commitment to our employees, who tend to be younger. We want to show the love in how we develop our young staff. They may or may not choose to be with us for a long term career but it needs to be the foundation of whatever they pursue next. If it’s their first job it should be the foundation for a work ethic and a desire to achieve in life.
13. Can you tell us about your background and what attracted you to Uncle Maddio’s?
I’m a native Jacksonville resident. I started my career in banking but wanted to be my own boss. I tried a few things before opening my first Krystal Burger here in Jacksonville 22 years ago. I’ve got 5 Krystal franchises now. Burgers are the most popular food in America, but pizza is pizza is a close second and fast casual as a restaurant style is growing very quickly. Uncle Maddio’s brings together the fast casual style with one of the most popular food items in a unique way, and I wanted to be part of that.
Uncle Maddio’s was started by Matt Andrew about 5 years ago. Matt is a University of Florida grad and was one of the co-founders of Moe’s Southwest Grill. When he sold the business he took some time off then started working on Uncle Maddio’s. It took a few years to set things up and test them out before opening it to franchisees. Now it’s exploding. There were 30 restaurants last year and there’ll be over 100 this year, all across the U.S.
14. What’s next?
Our second Uncle Maddio’s will be in the Bartram Village Shopping Center. I’ve already signed the lease and it should be open in June. The third location should be in Gainesville on Archer Road. Longer term there will be more locations in Jacksonville - I think the area can support about 12.