312 Pizza Company
NASHVILLE SINCE 2011.
Opening a restaurant wasn’t the original dream for the owners of the 312 Pizza Company’s move to Nashville. But as they settled into the 615, they noticed Nashville had a serious lack of pizza. Thus the Chicago-style pizza joint in the heart of Germantown was born.
“My sister-in-law Kim, one of the owners, was a musician, so Nashville seemed like a good fit,” co-owner Daniel Bockman shares. “On the first day we visited, we signed a lease.”
The intention wasn’t to open a restaurant. “I worked for one of the famous Chicago pizza places up there and came down here, got a restaurant management job,” Daniel recalls. As they adjusted to their new city, they saw a shortage in the pizza scene. “We just noticed there was no good Chicago pizza at all,” he says. Daniel’s background in restaurant management and his wife Staci’s background in sales and marketing made for the perfect opportunity.
The key ingredient was Bill. “Our father-in-law Bill, who was a plumber in Chicago, acted as our general contractor and basically built this place out himself,” Daniel says. “He probably saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars just by doing that. He was here every day, he was committed and focused, and he put his entire retirement account into opening this place up too, so he had a lot invested. His work was the reason we were able to open up with such little money at the time.”
As with any business, however, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. “We had a lot of good problems from the beginning,” Daniel says. “We didn’t have enough money to open up; probably a month before we were supposed to open we ran out.” However, the Nashville Sounds baseball stadium was announced to open in the neighborhood shortly thereafter, and the owners were able to interview investors to come on board. They had been warned against Germantown because of its crime, something they experienced first-hand when Daniel, Bill, and their chef were robbed at gunpoint during the build-out and were forced to lie on the ground and surrender their wallets.
Their opening was a struggle as well. The line was out the door; “it was awesome if you could handle it,” Daniel recalls. “We could not handle it.” Mid-day, they ran out of cheese. “It was a Sunday; our food distributor had to go drive out to Lebanon just to pick up some cheese and drive back,” Daniel recalls. “Pizzas were taking up to two hours at that point. We just had all these tickets and we couldn’t make any of them.”
Those learning experiences are long behind them. Since their 2014 launch, the from-scratch kitchen, quality ingredients, and craft cocktail bar have earned them numerous accolades, including Best Pizza Place in Nashville 2017 by the Toast of Nashville Awards. It’s a staple in Germantown and in Nashville. They’re expanding to a second 312 location – near the future soccer stadium – and have expanded their restaurant opportunities.
“As cliché as it sounds, it’s all about the people,” Daniel says. “It’s a family in a sense, everybody that you work with on a day to day basis. What keeps you going is you want to grow the family, you want to expand, you want everybody to be successful and happy. It’s basically just taking your family and making them as happy as possible.”