Faith Pierce and Bobby Silver are moving at light speed lately. They’ve owned Yellow Brick Pizza in Old Towne East for years, but just last month they doubled their responsibilities by opening a second location on King Avenue. And just as that’s getting up and running, this month they’re preparing to open a bar called The Oracle near the original Yellow Brick.
The road to get to today has more than a few wobbly bricks. Before they became business partners, they fell in love. They got married in 2010, and together they bought Yellow Brick the following year. Then Silver went on tour, traveling the world playing bass for the rapper Blueprint. Pierce stayed home to manage the restaurant. It wasn’t a recipe for a successful marriage. The pressure and the distance proved too much, and they divorced.
You might expect such a seismic event to sever their business partnership, too. You’d be wrong. While the split introduced a host of new challenges, they stuck it out.
“We’re very stubborn,” Pierce said.
“A lot of people get an idea of what divorce is, and they hear horror stories,” Silver said. “But we get to decide what our relationships consist of. Faith and I beat the odds together. We’re a divorced couple who maintained our partnership.”
As he spoke, the two of them looked at each other. “There’s just so much love here,” he said. “And every morning she’s the first person I talk to. She says, ‘Good morning, sunshine’ and shit.”
“I say it with a lot of sarcasm,” she said with a laugh. They both laughed.
You can tell there’s love there. It’s not romantic love, but it’s a friendly kind of love, and they’ve managed to keep it at the foundation of their business partnership. It’s not a story you hear often.
Not that the divorce had no effect. It forced them to clarify their roles in Yellow Brick. Pierce, who’s been working in restaurants since she was 15, runs the operations and business side of things. She maintains a staff of nearly 50 people who work together to keep customers happy. Silver, a CCAD graduate who feels more at home in creative pursuits, handles things like marketing, social media, and PR. He’s also responsible for the look of the restaurants, and choosing the art that hangs on the walls. (Five years ago, he and Yellow Brick artists were also responsible for the cover of this very issue).
Today, despite many competitors in the local pizza scene, Yellow Brick is thriving. And with the new location on King Avenue and The Oracle’s opening this month, they’re keeping busy. You know, moving at light speed.
They weren’t planning to open two new places in the span of a month. But in business as in life, things rarely go according to plan.
A few years ago, Pierce and Silver put themselves on a waiting list for a liquor license in Old Towne East. They figured they might be ready to open a new location by the time they got it. If not, they could sell it to someone else who needed it.
Before the liquor license came through, the King Avenue location came to their attention at a price that was too good to pass up. They locked it down and began turning it into the second Yellow Brick Pizza. Over the course of a year, they revamped everything. They installed ovens and redid the HVAC system. They put in the bar, tables, and booths, and hung a bunch of local art on the walls. Silver made the chandelier that hangs above the entrance. If you look closely, you’ll notice it’s made of translucent nunchucks. It’s all part of the YB vibe.
Everything was going at a reasonable pace when the liquor license they’d applied for came through. And just as it did, a perfect location became available near the original Yellow Brick. Despite being swamped with work running one pizza place and preparing to open another, they decided to jump on it.
They felt like they had to, because they have a lofty goal for The Oracle. They’re concerned about the fractured state of America, and they want The Oracle to be a place where different kinds of people can come together and share ideas.
“The Oracle is a hangout,” Silver said. “It’s basically an upscale dive bar. What we’re trying to do is get people back in the same room with each other. We want a lot of people with crazy-diverse backgrounds to come together and find common ground and understand each other.”
Can one bar help unite the country? Maybe it’s not a crazy idea. Change happens when people come together.
“As long as you’re not a dick, spitting hate speech, you should feel comfortable there,” Silver said. “That’s the America we really need.”
You know what? He’s not wrong.
The new Yellow Brick Pizza is open at 245 King Ave. The Oracle opens 5.23 at 1159 Oak St. in Olde Towne East. For more, visit yellowbrickpizza.com.