Patrons & Partnerships

Ep 20: Satchel's with Satchel & Gracy

February 24, 2022 Library Partnership Branch, Alachua County Library District Season 1 Episode 20
Patrons & Partnerships
Ep 20: Satchel's with Satchel & Gracy
Show Notes Transcript

Thanks for joining us for another episode of Patrons & Partnerships, presented by the Library Partnership Branch of the Alachua County Library District.

Our guests today are Satchel Raye, the founder of Satchel’s Pizza and Satch2, and Gracy Castine, their Public Relations Administrator. We speak about the history of Satchel’s, why exactly they started taking card payments, and the grant program they run to give back to the community.

The second half of this interview will be posted on March 10th.

Satchel’s Pizza: https://www.satchelspizza.com/ 
Grant blog: https://satchelsgiving.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/satchelspizza/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/satchelspizza/ 

Visit the Alachua County Library District website to browse our collection and to find other resources and services offered at your favorite, local library!

You can view a transcript of this podcast on ACLD's YouTube Channel.

Hi, thanks for listening to another episode of Patrons & Partnerships. Today we spoke with Satchel Raye and Gracy Castine of Satchel’s Pizza about the history of Satchel’s and the grant program they run for nonprofits in Gainesville. This interview was edited for length and clarity and will be posted in two parts. The second episode will be posted on March 10th. [Music]

Eleanore:

Hi, thanks for being here with us today! Could you introduce yourselves?

Gracy:

I'm Gracy Castine.

Satchel:

I'm Satchel Raye. We're with Satchel's Pizza. We work at Satchel's.

Eleanore:

You're the founder, right.

Satchel:

Yeah. The CEO basically. I don't really call it that but yeah, the owner.

Gracy:

Yeah, you're the owner.

Satchel:

Yeah.

Eleanore:

So everyone in town knows Satchel’s, or at least seen the bumper stickers around. I can't count how many I've seen in my time in Gainesville. But could you give us a quick history of the restaurant?

Satchel:

Oh, my gosh.

Eleanore:

Hard question? How do you do that? History of the whole restaurant. What inspired you? Why did you wanna make pizza?

Satchel:

Well, I started, I started working at McDonald's at at 16. I got my first job the day I turned 16 down the street. And after about eight months at McDonald's, this new restaurant, Italian restaurant was opened across the street, so I left McDonald's to work there. And I really liked the restaurant business, especially when it was a small mom and pop shop like that. And I got to making some pizza and always loved making pizza. So even after high school, I came to UF. Just, you know, making pizza was something I always enjoyed, and ended up dropping out of school, because I wanted to just be an artist. So making art was something that I enjoyed, but making pizza was how I made money. So, ended up opening Satchel's in 2003. It was a small investment. It was a little place on the outside of town. And here we are 18 years later. Now we have somebody who- Gracy- who does all of our donations and all of our catering requests.

Eleanore:

You're the general office manager. You do all the paperwork?

Gracy:

Yeah, there's a couple of us. Yeah, so I handle the donation request. And it- I think it really started with the, you have ATM machines. Right?

Satchel:

Hmm. Gracy: How did- because that- You know, that's a good question.

Gracy:

The grant process started before I came on board.

Eleanore:

Mhmm

Satchel:

Yeah. So I think what happened is that the grant process of giving away two $500 grants every quarter started as a way just to give back to the community. Like if you have a project, we have these grants. Later, that turned into three grants per quarter, which is what we do now. And then the ATMs brought a whole other level of donations, so the $1500 was just like a quarter was like, Oh, we're gonna pick some just at Satchel's. And then that was just money that people gave us ATMs. And then we had money left over at the end of the year, we had a third- and then we started a third grant. But also the catering is like, like another thing that we didn't start right away. I mean, we could do catering, people want pizza. But like turning it into a thing, where it's like, “oh, let's do catering”. Where you tell so many people will come up with a menu, we'll find out if you have dietary needs. It's another job that takes a lot of emails for catering. So a lot of times, I'll be there early in the morning and then Gracie's there, doing her thing. And then it's like lunch, and she's still there. And I'm like, “How can she still be there?" But like, there's so much to do up in the office, Because we have instead of having a like a 40 or 50 hour week office person, we have two people split the job. And so, she can come in and then usually leave by lunch, I would guess. But sometimes she's there way later, running errands and picking up things we need for the office. And there's just, it's a big operation, there's a lot to do, so... But anyway, so the restaurant's just evolved from its humble beginnings of like, you know, the rent was $750 a month. and we had a couple employees. And now, you know, there's over 40 employees, and it's, it's really busy. And it's - and we have a second location. And we have three grants. We do catering regularly. And so it's turned into a lot more, you know of a big deal. Like when we started our first t-shirts said “keep it simple”. That was the whole idea. Just pizza and salad, keep it simple. And, um. And now we need a new one. It's like -

Eleanore:

It's gotten a little complicated. Satchel: Make it complicated.

Satchel:

Like it's gotten complicated, right? Eleanore: Yeah. So... But it's, I mean, it's fine. We, you know, we all like our jobs. I feel like everybody likes, you know, the environment.

Eleanore:

I mean, you can't complain about success. Satchel: Yeah, no. When did you notice that Satchel's was sort of developing a cult following in Gainesville?

Satchel:

Well, I don't know. Eleanore: Because I feel like it does - Like, it's hard to put that into, like a perspective, because when you're in there working and you're just in, you're just getting busier, and you don't really see any of that. You just know there's more people. I mean, we were open for three months, when an article came out in the Gainesville Sun back when, you know, everybody got the actual paper. Gracy: People read the paper. And then there's a color picture, which was a big deal on the front of the lifestyle section, or whatever local section of me spinning a pizza. And then we got really, really busy. And so all you know, on my side is, you know, we're getting busier, we have to hire more people, we have to train more people. And you're just always getting busier. And really, that happened for the first five years. It just kept growing and growing till it was it kind of, I guess, after about five years, you're like, This is stupid. Like, there's two hour waits. And, you know, we don't have - we don't have enough space in the kitchen. We don't have space for the dough, like - it had gotten, you know, a little bit out of control, but... Gracie: You can only cook so many pizzas at once.

Eleanore:

Yeah. Satchel: Yeah. Have you always been in that same building on 23rd?

Satchel:

Yeah.

Eleanore:

You did? Did you ever have to expand it?

Satchel:

Well, we had a fire in 2012. And so we, we had to rebuild the kitchen. And it got a little bigger, and we were able to build it in a way that was - We had been open for nine years, let's see ‘03 to ‘12. So we knew how to make the kitchen more efficient. So that actually was a blessing in disguise. I mean, I never would have thought of it that way at the time, you know, your building's burned down and all this, but... We ended up getting a much better design in the kitchen. And so that helped a lot. And then five years later, we had a fire at Lightning Salvage, our gift shop. And that place burned to the ground. And, you know, it was a whole year we were closed. And it was awful. I wouldn't - I don't know if that's - I couldn't say that was a blessing in disguise. I mean, I love the new building. But there was nothing wrong with the old building. And so that's gotten a lot bigger. It's given us offices where now, she has her own office. Before, she was in the office next to the server station where servers, people are clocking in and out, servers are in there taking a break and having chips. I mean, gosh, can you remember like - Gracy: I can remember. [laughs] And then you were sharing that office with somebody else, which it's not an office, it's a wine storage, it's a snack break room, like... So when we built the new building, they got an office, and they're not always there at the same time, and they kind of share the office, have their own desk and computer.

Eleanore:

Mhmm. But that expansion was really helpful because we got a whole room for storage and a place for lockers for the employees and an employee break room with a couch. I mean, we don’t have the ping pong table yet, but - [laughter] It's on the way. I mean, it sounds like both renovations, even though they weren’t really planned renovations, did work out for you.

Satchel:

When you have something like that happen, you have to decide, you know, like, what are we... What's the direction to go here, you know? And how can we get the best out of this situation, because it's a bad situation, and we need to make the best of it. And so there's a lot of ways to go. I mean, when the bar burned down, to rebuild that bar, the way I wanted to build it out of block, with two story and offices and a big stage and sound system. You know, I could have probably opened two other restaurants, and that little bar on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday night, you know, there's a band playing or a guy playing and there's three people watching them. And you're like, you know, it's a free concert hall we've created. [laughter] But you know, sometimes it's just like about, like - what am I really trying to create here? Is it just like a string of restaurants? Or is it one place That's kind of like, you know, very unique? So... Those, those decisions aren't hard for me to make. But they - but I do think, because I really have a vision for what I'm trying to create there, so I think it did turn out good. Although they're awful, awful experiences. Fires are just the worst.

Eleanore:

No, I'm sure that was very stressful. I mean, that's a lot, honestly. And out of curiosity, what made you start taking card and mobile pay? Because I remember, I didn't even know you were taking card until I looked at your website. And I was like, Wow, I can't believe they finally did that.

Gracy:

You opened the other restaurant. Satchel: Right, yeah, thank you. [laughter] Satchel: I need a brain sometimes to walk around and tell me what the reasons for anything I do. We opened Satch Squared and we wanted to be able to take credit cards because it is an inconvenience for people, and we knew that, and people always told us that, but we were getting away with it and we were busy. So we just said you know, bad words -

Eleanore:

You don't really need to encourage more business when you already have a two hour wait for pizza. Satchel: Right, so we're just like- but then at the new place, where like, we're trying to - if we're gonna open a second location, we really want to be more, you know, I wanted to be open seven days a week, I wanted to be open breakfast, lunch and dinner. I wanted- I wanted to have something more that was more available to people all the time and easily available. People do get mad about credit cards, it's weird. So the thing that really changed it there was that there's a company called Gravity Payments that I came across, and the CEO took a huge cut in pay to raise all of his employees to $70,000 a year. They do credit card processing. And so we would get calls from credit card processors all the time. they want to get your 2%, 3%, 4%, whatever they're going to get. And it always just seems like a scammy, slimy business like they're selling used cars or something. And so this guy said, he had people making $35,000 a year, $40,000 all the way up. And so he put everybody to $70,000. And then he took a pay cut, and then his business was thriving from that move. Because we all want to support businesses that support their employees. And - you know? So that gave me a, like a little window into like, let's try the processing with them. Well, the service was great, because the employees are happy. And they were, easily helped us get set up. And they gave us good rates that were comparable to anybody else. So you feel like you're giving your money to at least a better company. And that's what I think helped inspire people with Satchel's, like oh, we like giving our money to this company because of - you know, we try to give good wages and things like that. So that - and then we decided that rounding up for charity would be a way to raise money like we did with the ATMs. I mean, the thing about the ATMs, it was always a way to raise money for charity.

Gracy:

Using the fees.

Eleanore:

I was gonna ask about that. You use the fees from the ATM?

Satchel:

So we bought the ATMs and then we charged $1.50 and all the $1.50 goes to charity.

Eleanore:

Okay.

Satchel:

So - but we have to fill the ATMs and fix the ATMs. And that's a whole 'nother business we got into, is ATM business. I mean, you know how to do - you could go break into an ATM [laughter] anywhere in town if you wanted. Gracie: Sure, yeah. Any one. [laughter] If had all the big set of keys and combination. So the ATMs made money, and that's why we didn't change it. And then if we - It wasn't so much like, Oh, I'm afraid to pay like Visa and MasterCard fees, I don't want to pay the fees if I don’t have to, but at least if the fees are going to a company that's paying their employees well, and at least if we're able to round up and still make money for charity, then I can say, well, this is a business expense. It's also going to encourage some growth to the business potentially, especially around Christmas when people are buying gifts in our gift shop. So yeah, so then when it worked out over there, we just moved it over to Satchel's.

Eleanore:

Yeah, that sounds really great, actually. It's nice to know that - I mean, I can understand the rationale of not wanting to get into taking credit cards in part because that 2% is 2% that you could get from the ATM and put toward back to your community.

Satchel:

Yeah.

Eleanore:

Why did Satchel's start the grant program?

Satchel:

Because Gracie started working there, right?

Gracy:

No, it started before me. The office manager Teresa, who opened Vine, which is why she's not there anymore. She started it and she kind of encouraged you - y'all worked together to get it in place.

Satchel:

Yeah, well, it was like I was saying before, it was just like, Oh, we're doing really well. Let's give back to the community. We'll do the - how do we want to do it? And then we, you know, my wife and Teresa, we decided we’d do grants because then you can have people give you something to look at. And you can decide who to fund, you know. Like, it's hard. How do you give away money? Do you just walk around like throwing dollar bills, you know, like, just a lot of ways to do it.

Gracie:

It’s been a process though, because when I started in 2014,

Gracy:

there was a blog, there still is a blog, Satchel: Oh, yeah. but nobody really reads the blog.

Satchel:

But see, the blog is important to me, because I want the blog to be the place Gracy: Yeah, it keeps track - where all the people are getting their money, right, like the transparency factor. Like if you want to know, Are you really giving away this money? You know, you get the TMZ Gainesville coming in and they want to find out what's really going on, are they really giving to charity? That’s a place where it's archived, who gets what money and how much they got. And then anybody's welcome to go to them and get that confirmation. It's not like we're trying to prove anything. Gracie: Right. But it is nice to be transparent. That's what the blog is about. I mean, in a blog, you could - I mean, if she wanted to, you could just write about how, you know, all these organizations - but what we try to do is just explain the organization, right, I mean.

Gracy:

But when I started in ‘14, you would - we’d post stuff on Facebook and encourage people to apply.

Satchel:

Oh, right.

Gracy:

And now we can't do that as much anymore because the algorithms have messed with you.

Satchel:

Yeah, yeah. Gracy: No one sees that anymore. Right, Right. Gracy: So I've been - You reach out to them. Gracy: Sometimes -

Gracy:

Sometimes I'm emailing organizations, urging them to apply, because people just don't know about it enough or they're afraid the application process is super complicated.

Satchel:

I think that a lot of - I think that you have to, you would have to have a position in your organization that you're applying for grants. And then you have to have - know what all grants are out there. And we have rules about, you can only get 'em once a year or whatever. And so if you've already, and there's only so many organizations in Gainesville,

Gracy:

Right.

Satchel:

so we end up giving to the same organizations a lot. But there is a process there and they need a project, we try to say you can't just say it's just for your general funds, like, what's the project you're doing? So they have to have a project and a mission, but... It's just grown from there. And I mean, there's some way we could figure out the total monies that have been given out over the years, but its hundreds of 1000s of dollars, I would think at this point. And, but. And some of its community money, and some of it's our money. Those organizations, they need funding, you know, and where else are they going to get it, if not from your local community and other businesses that are doing well?

Eleanore:

Do you ever not have enough applicants?

Gracie:

Yeah, sometimes Satchel: yeah.

Eleanore:

Sometimes? Well, I hope we'll be able to get the word out.

Gracy:

Thank you!

Satchel:

Well, and if you go to our website, Satchelspizza.com.

And you scroll down, it'll say Grants, and that tells you:

Email Gracy, and here's the application process. We try to make the application as simple as possible.

Satchel:

But last time, did we have two? Gracie: Yes. Okay. So what happens is we do three $500 grants, but sometimes we'll give one $1500 grant.

Eleanore:

Could you tell us a little bit more about the grants? There's three levels, what is each level intended for?

Gracy:

So there's SatchCares, which is the quarterly grant.

Satchel:

And that's three $500 grants. Gracy: Right. And that's the first one we started and we didn't have a name, it was just the Satch Grant. It was just, we're doing these three grants. But then with the ATMs, it changed things. Because we had all this money, and... It was so much money from the ATMs that we said, well, let's give half of it to this monthly grant. And the other half will save up to the end of the year for this big grant. Gracy: A big one. So now all of the sudden we have three grants. So we've kind of kept that same system - model. Gracie: Model. And you know, my thing is branding, so we had Satch Cares, Satch Cash, Satch Capital. I need to get back to the branding table on this because now we have Satch Cares, which is the money we give away quarterly. Gracy: Quarterly. And then we have the RUFC, that's Round Up For Charity -

Gracie:

Which is bi monthly. And this is the first year you've done that.

Satchel:

So this is - right now, it's Grace Marketplace. And for two months, they get all the Round Up For Charity money, Which you said averages.... $2,800? Gracy: It averages around. Yeah. $2,500. Right. Gracy: For two months. And so that's everybody rounding up sometimes like two pennies, and they get the Round Up For Charity money. So at the end of the year, we're going to take the ATM money that we made for the year and maybe it'll be five grand, and we can look at some $5,000 Capital bigger grants. We can put a call out like, hey, we have this money to give away and you can apply. So basically, we have kind of a pretty strict timeline when you need to apply, it's on the website.

Gracy:

Yeah. And sometimes I push it a little. Satchel: Yeah. Give people a little more time. Satchel: Yeah.

Satchel:

Especially if we don't have a lot - [crosstalk] If we don't have a lot or if people are in touch with you, Gracie: Right, exactly. in communication, like “I'm working on it”. Gracy: Yes. And this being the first year of the new Capital Grant, we don't know exactly how much it's going to be. So we need to just, we might be a little more flexible with that one. Because if you're giving away five grand, you just want to find a good mission for it. We bought Grace a truck before, to use for hauling furniture and moving people in. It's nice when your money's going to some tangible thing you can see in the community.

Eleanore:

That really puts into perspective how busy you are. If like before, the Round Up For Charity and the credit card payments, you were making enough money just off of, what, like a $1.50 ATM fee to fund all of this? Gracy: Yes.

Satchel:

Now that was a lot of money.

Gracie:

And the ATM, we'd split that. Eleanore: Yeah

Satchel:

It was over $20,000 - it was more like $25,000 from the ATM at $1.50 a pop. Eleanore: Wow. Because everybody comes in, it's cash only, and you’ve got to go to the ATM.

Eleanore:

Yeah, because so few people - especially nowadays, almost nobody carries cash. But like, that is…

Gracy:

It's changed things.

Satchel:

Well, we aren't making as much money as we did with the ATM. Gracie: No. And I thought we would. And what I didn't figure in, which, you know, you think I'd be smarter - I was CEO, you think I'd figure it out - [laughter]

is that even though I said:

Well, SatchSquared is making $1,000 a month, we can make $2,000 a month, we're way busier. But it's not about how busy you are. It's about how many transactions you do. Because you're still, if you have this... You know, it's like... Satchel's is busier, our ticket prices are higher, we get bigger parties. But if you got a party that just spent 150 bucks, and you say, well, you round up and it's a quarter, that's the same as somebody over there

Satchel:

who spent $9.75 and rounded up a quarter. Eleanore: Yeah.

Gracie:

They’re open more hours than you.

Satchel:

Yeah, they're open more hours, so they get more transactions. But anyway, it ends up we probably make the same amount as them in Round Up For Charity. Gracie: It’s pretty close. You know, it's a little bit - it's - I wish that we had made the same amount with our new program to take credit cards, but it doesn't mean that we can't pull out of our own pockets, some more profits to send to charities as time goes on, too. Because now we're more established, you know, it went from two to three, you know, instead of going from three to four, we can just put aside a few more $1,000 for charities. [music] Thanks for listening to Patrons & Partnerships. Again, the second half of this interview will be posted on March 10th. If you know of an individual or organization you’d like to recommend for an interview, email us at lpsfprogram@gmail.com. To listen to more episodes, find us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify. And be sure to check out the Alachua County Library on Spotify while you’re there for chill playlists to read to, hand-picked by our librarians. Storytime on the Green is back for the new year starting January 11th. Visit our site at aclib.us/storytimeonthegreen for a list of times and locations for all branches. Partnership staff hold storytimes at Smokey Bear Park

off of 15th every Thursday at 10:

30am, weather permitting. And we have a representative from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to help you sign up. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library provides preschool children with a free book every month until age 5. if you have a child under age 5 in your household, it’s a great opportunity to encourage their love of reading. Have you heard the news? Your library card now grants you access to Hoopla, a music and video streaming service with thousands of albums, comics, and movies you can enjoy on any device with the Hoopla app. There's no need to place a hold - all of the content is available on demand at any time. To check it out, go to aclib.us/hoopla. Looking for a way to encourage your child’s love of science and technology? Then place a hold on one of ACLD’s STEM kits, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Gainesville. Each kit includes hands-on educational exploration of a STEM topic, with an interactive toy, book, and DVD on topics ranging from electricity to physics. Check out the full listing of kits at aclib.us/stem-kits!