EYE ON BUSINESS: Pizzeria owner hopes to bring cheer to UTC
Sarasota-based Origin Craft Beer & Pizza is opening a new location at University Town Center.
| 9:10 a.m. January 13, 2021
Rami Nehme admits when he first started hearing customers say his restaurant reminded them of “Cheers,” he had never seen the show before.
His interest was piqued. So he watched, and he saw the show’s bar did provide the feel that he was aiming for in his restaurant, especially on one particular aspect — a sense of community.
Nehme, 43, said Origin Craft Beer & Pizza serves local beer from employees who will get to know their customers and treat them “like they treat their friends.” The Sarasota-based company will soon bring that environment to a new location this month at UTC.
The restaurant, located at 8193 Tourist Center Drive in Bradenton, will be Nehme’s first foray into Manatee County. His restaurants serve hand-tossed, New York-style pizzas, wings, enchiladas and more. Popular dishes include the Siesta Sands white pizza, Super Sami gyro pizza (named for his 3-year-old son) and Charlie’s cheese pizza (named for his 5-year-old son) as well as the wings.
Origin offers local craft beers such as Calusa, Big Top, JDub’s and Darwin. Nehme said Origin is known for giving its customers samples of beer.
“Sometimes you just want to try a beer, you don't want a whole glass of it,” Nehme said. “The majority of my customers that drink, they come here because they want to know what's new, what came out this week.”
Nehme might open mornings to offer coffee and breakfast foods. He is in the process of reaching out to local roasters like Java Dawg.
“We are as strong as our local businesses are,” Nehme said. “It's the fabric of the community. You're not shipping your money (somewhere else).”
He’s also planning to introduce a play area at the new location, which he thinks might appeal to young families. The play area will likely be a sandbox or mulch-box including trucks and other toys.
Nehme prides himself on keeping his business open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 a.m. all other nights. The decision was inspired by his previous inability to find food when he closed his restaurant for the night.
“This is a spot where service industry people, after work, can come together."
Nehme said UTC is the best location for him to start reaching new customers in Manatee County and northern Sarasota County.
Origin’s first location opened in 2016 on Sarasota’s Hillview Street. The UTC location will be his third. He feels fortunate that he is in position to expand his business during the COVID-19 pandemic
“I count my stars everyday [for] how lucky I am,” Nehme said.
The restaurant owner was born in Kuwait, raised in Jordan and immigrated to the United States in 2003. Jordan is a small country, about the size of Maine. Nehme felt he needed to see other parts of the world and broaden his mind, adding that humans are meant to be travelers.
“Once you come to America, it's hard to leave it,” Nehme said.