Satchel Raye, known for his Gainesville pizza shop, thinks of the restaurant as a piece of artwork.
Monday at 6 p.m., 12 people gathered at Infinity Hall for an entrepreneurship speaker event to hear what makes Satchel’s Pizza different from other local shops. Raye was the first speaker in a three part series about entrepreneurship, craft and graphic design, put on by the Mint Graphic Design Studio at UF. The other two speakers will be later this week.
Raye was chosen to speak because of how popular his restaurant, Satchel’s Pizza, is with Gainesville locals, said Ashley Fuchs, a coordinator for Mint events.
“He’s a local Gainesville great,” Fuchs said. “He’s an entrepreneur but also an artist, which is everything that graphic design is interested in.”
Raye displayed his designs and graphics for the group to engage with. His artwork ranged from T-shirt designs to posters for the annual pine-cone contest the pizzeria hosts each year.
“When you’re trying to make a brand, you have to get through a lot of stuff before you get to the good stuff,” Raye said.
The tables were piled high with Raye’s old ideas for menu backs, posters and random doodles from his studio. He said each one of the designs had a story.
“The process of learning is much more important to me than getting a perfect product in the end,” he said.
During his speech, Raye mentioned how the iconic van in which customers can sit and enjoy their pizza was once a home for him.
The first time he saw the van, he thought it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen, he said. After traveling in it for many years, he decided to transform it for the shop.
“When the restaurant business was finally picking up, I was out one day mowing the lawn and I had this idea,” he said. “I knew I could make a table out of the back of the van where people could enjoy their pizza.”
Satchel’s Pizza opened in March 2003, Raye said. After working at different pizzerias since the age of 16, Raye knew the restaurant business was something that he wanted to go into.
“As the restaurant got more popular over the years, I got to bring in my art, and that’s what I wanted to do,” Raye said. “It wasn’t a plan but it really came together.”
Anika Huda, a 20-year-old UF digital arts and sciences junior, said Raye was an inspiring speaker.
“I really enjoyed hearing about his process of things,” she said. “He said he’s a doer not a viewer. It’s great how he does his own thing.”