The history of pizza    {at least good pizza}

Leonardos pizza comes from the "Chicago style" pizza made famous by "Pizzaria Uno" in Chi-town. It has a thick crust, more than your average amount of sauce, and very generous toppings that are under the cheese, as opposed to on top of the cheese. A couple of guys named Steve Solomon and Sander Heilig and Sander's sister, Alma were living in Champaign, Illinois, {Home of the fighting Illini}. Alma worked in a pizza joint called "Garcia brothers" pizza. Garcia's made Chicago style pizza also. Steve and friends looked at each other one day and said " hey, this doesn't look so hard." So, they scraped up some cash and some "balls" and said "let's do it!" At the time, the concept seemed to work best near a college campus, so they decided on Gainesville {I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe the weather and the party school image?}

They opened a place at a little hole in the wall at 706 west university. It went over pretty well, so they opened another even closer to the University of Florida. This location sold pizza by the slice-one of the first in the country to do pizza-by-the-slice.

A few years later Steve bought out his friends/partners and opened a location in the millhopper square in the "suburbs" of Gainesville,{a huge sinkhole about 2 miles north is called "the devil's millhopper", thus the name of the area} and that's where my wife and I come in.{finally!} Tina and Gregg Brannan didn't care for their current jobs and were thinking of opening a Leonardo's-type pizza place {Leonardo's comes from da vinci, by the way} in Tallahassee {another college town}. We even scouted out some possible locations. When out of the blue, we heard the Leonardo's in the Millhopper square was for sale. It was expensive, but, we wouldn't have to move, and the place had a decent track record. We signed on the dotted line and took over on August 1st, 1979. That was an exciting and scary day.

People ask how we've managed to stay in business for so long. I think the reasons are mainly -having a good product and having good people.

There are a few Leonardo's scattered around the country, but we haven't been real aggressive in franchising, so, if you're interested, we could be talked into selling someone the rights to franchise. But hurry, because we're in our mid fifties and getting lazier by the minute!!

Tina and I would like to thank all of the people, past, present and future that have helped us make Leonardo's pizza of Millhopper a success. We would love to hear from folks that used to work for us.

Thanks, Gregg