Sidewall Pizza Company
It was Sidewall Pizza’s outdoor space on the Northeast corner of the Emerson Center for Arts and Culture that first caught my eye. It reminded me of a yard party: fun and inviting. I knew I had to check it out, and I was not disappointed. This community-centered pizzeria offers delicious food for any occasion. Its extensive pizza menu includes stuffed pizzas, and homemade ice cream is available to round out the meal. I chatted with co-owner Eric Gefell about all things Sidewall.
Elsa Russell: How was Sidewall Pizza conceptualized?
Eric Gefell: Sidewall Bozeman was conceptualized around community and the things that make Bozeman unique. In my eyes, Bozeman really is in a league of its own. It’s an amazing town full of motivated, active people. It’s big enough to not know everybody, but small enough that you’re still bumping into the same people on the trails and at your favorite eateries and breweries. So, we really started Sidewall in Bozeman to fit the community and to have a restaurant that had quality food and service with a laid-back atmosphere.
ER: What do you want people to experience when they walk through your doors?
EG: First and foremost, you really want everybody to feel welcome, just enjoying great food and drinks and really not having to worry about anything while they’re there, just having a good time. Anybody that’s lived in Bozeman knows the feeling of flying back into town after a trip or vacation, and it’s actually a really cool feeling. We’re doing our best to have that same feeling when you come into Sidewall. Like it’s part of your home.
ER: What makes you unique in the Bozeman food scene?
EG: I’d say there are two things that really set us apart. The first is just quality ingredients; we really strive to have the very best ingredients and product that we can. And the second is quality service. Those are the two things that we focus on, and we spend a lot of time training employees to reach that goal with us. I think that there has been a shift in the service industry, and maybe not all for the best. But I think it’s really important for us to feel good about what we’re serving and the service that we’re giving the customer.
We hear time and time again from our customers that they’re thrilled with the food and, equally as important, that they feel welcome by our staff; that their server actually cared how their day went, or cared if they had any fun weekend plans. I think that goes a long way in choosing where to spend your money.
ER: What do your regulars keep coming back for?
EG: Kind of similar to the previous question, great food and great service. We really strive to put the customer first, and I feel like it shows. But beyond great food and service, customers rave about a few different items for sure: the bread sticks, our little pepperoni pizza. It sells like crazy. We definitely have a lot of very good feedback on our gluten free crust and, of course, the homemade ice cream.
ER: How did the homemade ice cream come about?
EG: You know, with being primarily a pizza restaurant, we do salads as well, but we just really wanted to do something unique to finish off the meal. And again, something that will keep people coming back. And something fun. So it was kind of a no-brainer. If we were going to do dessert, a homemade ice cream is a great option.
ER: What is your personal favorite menu item?
EG: That’s a tough one. It definitely has changed throughout the course of it. I’d say right now, though, I’m really taking a liking to the Galaxy Goddess with a pesto base.
ER: What do you enjoy most about being part of the Bozeman community?
EG: Yeah, that’s a great question. Personally, it’s a little bit of everything. We made the conscious decision early on to really put our local community first. During the shoulder season months that are really make or break for restaurants it’s the locals that really get you through those slower times. I feel like the community has seen this and responded well to it. We’ve been open for just over a year; it was actually a year last week. You know, we made it through one of the toughest years to own a restaurant, let alone open one. I think we can all agree that it wasn’t tourism that got us through this past year.
So it’s really fun to be a part of the community and see everybody help each other out. To me, and to us, it means everything to be a part of this community, and we’re seeing loads of local businesses ordering Sidewall for their employee appreciation lunches, being involved with organizations like BYEP, and helping with fundraisers. It just feels good to be moving the community in the right direction and to be able to have some say in where the town is headed. I really think it’s more important now than ever to support the businesses that have the greater good of Bozeman in mind.
ER: Do you have anything coming up that you want readers to know about?
EG: We just started doing live music on Wednesdays; I think we’re three weeks into that, and it’s been awesome. We’re really excited about that and it’s something we’re going to continue through the winter. So, we’ve got that going on. We always have some killer weekly specials and happy hour specials going on. Additionally, I know it seems like the cold weather is a long way off, but we are going to be bringing back the wall tents for outdoor seating again this winter, so we’re really excited for that as well.
I’m just excited for things to be kind of leveling out, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Bozeman community and to be serving up delicious pizza to everyone.
On your next pizza outing, head over to Sidewall. If you can, grab a table outside beneath the tree. Whether you opt for pizza, salad, breadsticks, or all three, you are in for a fresh, flavorful meal and the incredible slice of community that comes with it.