Photograph by Andrew Cebula
New Yorker Todd Lucey brings culinary experience and passion to pizza with Slice Co.
by Lorne Chambers | Editor
Tucked into the back corner of the Indigo Village Shopping Center, Slice Co. officially opened its brick and mortar location in West Ashley just a few weeks ago. While it might be a little tough to see from your car while driving down Savannah Highway, it’s definitely worth seeking out. Located in the space that formerly housed Bianca’s Pizza and more recently Stoner’s Pizza, Slice Co. owner and West Ashley resident Todd Lucey is banking that his pizzeria will fair far better than the space’s two previous short-lived tenants.
If the first couple weeks are any indication, that should not be a problem. In a part of town where there’s plenty of options for pizza, Slice Co is already generating quite a buzz.
As a New Yorker with 15 years restaurant experience and a degree from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Lucey knows a thing or two about pizza. And despite working around it every day, Lucey really loves pizza. During the hurricane evacuation last month, he went back to New York for a few days and says he probably ate pizza four or five times while he was there.
When asked why he decided to start a pizzeria in a town that has no shortage of pizza options, Lucey makes a point not to put down anyone else’s business. “There is good pizza here, but nothing that made me feel like home. I didn’t see anyone doing a true New York slice pizzeria here,” he says. “So it was a combination of not having something like that here and me just needing that kind of pizza in order to live.”
That doesn’t mean that Slice Co. only sells pizza by the slice, you can order whole pies, both 18-inch traditional round and “squarish” Grandma pizzas as well as a gluten-free pizza.
Additionally, Slice Co. also offers a handmade Wagyu Beef meatball sub, a pistachio gelato sandwich, a house salad, and savory garlic knots. Right now Slice Co. is only available for pick-up or eat-in at one of a couple tables in the restaurant’s very small dining area. Lucey says he hopes to have home delivery available in the near future, but for right now you can get it via Über Eats.
Lucey takes somewhat of a philosophical approach to pizza without being pretentious, like some restaurants. “It’s only pizza. But there are only like five ingredients to it, so they better be good. And the end result better be good. You can totally screw it up so easily,” says Lucey. “So we take time with that stuff. For example, we make our own mozzarella. We break down wheels of cheese, pulling a couple hundred pounds of it.”
Even thought it’s hard work, Lucey hopes these extra steps is what will set Slice Co. apart. “I’ve always killed myself working for other people. Now I might not get home and go to bed until 1 a.m. But every day I wake up early and I love it,” says Lucey.
Before running his own pizzeria, Lucey has held jobs in all facets of the restaurant industry. After graduating from CIA, he went to Europe and furthered his culinary education, earning certificate degrees in both Italy and Spain before eventually returning to New York City where he worked a variety of industry jobs, ranging from managing corporate chains to selling empanadas from a food truck.
Lucey not only has the culinary chops for success, but he’s also slinging a market-tested, proven product. Prior to opening in West Ashley, Slice Co. spent more than a year as a tenant at Workshop downtown.
For those unfamiliar, housed in the Pacific Box & Crate complex, Workshop serves as kind of a rotating test kitchen for new restaurant concepts. It’s sort of a fancy food court that allows chefs a chance to try out restaurant ideas and recipes before investing in a place of their own. Instead of paying rent, tenants must give a sizable portion of their profits to Workshop’s owners.
Before opening in West Ashley, Slice Co. was a staple at Workshop for 13 months, where Lucey perfected his pizza and built a bit of a cult following around the area. Now that he has a permanent space, the question is, will that following follow him to West Ashley and will locals here embrace his pizza as enthusiastically as downtown Workshop customers did? So far the answer has been a resounding “yes.”
“West Ashley has been super supportive,” says Lucey. Since officially opening his doors in September, Slice Co. has been churning out one perfectly-baked pie after another. And since he no longer has to give a large “slice” of his profits to Workshop, Slice Co. has been able to actually lower its prices since opening.
The last couple years have been a fast, non-stop ride for Lucey, who along with his wife Isolda, moved to Charleston two years ago with the hopes of one day having his own pizzeria.
Isolda helps him run the restaurant as well as the Slice Co. food truck and their Mexican taco truck Comostamos. Things seem to be working out nicely, but it hasn’t been exactly by the script, says Lucey.
While still living in New York, the couple visited friends who own a bakery here several times. Isolda fell in love with the city. Lucey says they began toiling with the idea of moving here and even made tentative plans to eventually relocate. Then the couple found out they were going to have a baby. This revelation put things into high gear and they decided to just go ahead and moved to Charleston and pursue their dreams.
“My original plan when we were thinking about moving down here was my wife was going to manage the taco truck and I was going to manage the pizza truck until we could open our own place” says Lucey. “Then Workshop presented itself and it seemed like the perfect in-between. Once we married the two business plans, it just seemed to make sense.”
Shortly after relocating to Charleston, Lucy opened Slice Co.’s space at Workshop. Three weeks later Isolda had their baby. That’s a lot of big changes in a short amount of time. But the couple seems to be handling it all in stride.
When not in the restaurant or at home with their baby, Isolda can often be found behind the window of Comostamos. She also manages the Slice Co. truck, which can be spotted at local events, like There Will Be Hops, held last month behind Charles Towne Fermentory in Avondale as part of Charleston Beer Week.
Slice Co is located at 1662 Savannah Hwy. Suit 202. For more information, call (843) 343-5827 or visit www.slicecompany.com.