Nashville pizza joint delivers for its struggling neighborhood

NASHVILLE -- It was hopping at Slim and Husky's recently -- and it wasn't not even noon yet.

The owners are three budding entrepreneurs. EJ Reed is the "slim." His college roommates, Derrick Moore and Clint Gray, who are former football players at Tennessee State, are the "huskies."

"We invested about $1,000 a piece, back then it's all we had," Gray said. "I don't even know if it was a thousand a piece, two of us probably had $800."

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From left, Derrick Moore, EJ Reed and Clint Gray.

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Gray, Reed and Moore turned a former garage into a pizza-making lab where they developed their unique recipes. They thought selling 300 pizzas a day would be great. But now, since opening in March, they easily do nearly 1,000.

Building a booming business, however, isn't only about doing well; it's also about doing good.

"What better place to create change and be an example than your own neighborhood," Reed said.

Their neighborhood is North Nashville. City-wide, 17 percent of people live in poverty. But in North Nashville, it's 40 percent. The unemployment rate is more than three times the rest of the city.

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Pizzas being topped at Slim and Husky's.

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"We see a lot of times that a lot of guys that we grew up with ... they don't come back because a lot of times they don't see the opportunity that's here for African Americans in Nashville," Moore said. "But we're about creating opportunity."

Slim and Husky's also provides something that's been almost impossible for folks from the neighborhood to find: a job they can walk to.

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Inside Slim and Husky's

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"No matter what you look like or where you come from, if you work together you can create a community that continues to build," Gray said.

"We 100 percent believe in that," Reed said.

Belief is the too-often missing ingredient when it comes to revitalizing neighborhoods. At Slim and Husky's, it's pairing nicely with the cheese, sauce and crust to get the job done.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.