Slice of life 

After years of planning and preparation, the first food concept from hip-hop musician Jabee Williams is open for business.

click to enlarge Eastside Pizza House

Berlin Green

Eastside Pizza House

For a man whose motto for years has been, “To the Eastside with love,” it’s only fitting that Eastside Pizza House opened on Valentine’s Day.


click to enlarge Eastside Pizza House - JABEE WILLIAMS
  • Jabee Williams
  • Eastside Pizza House

Years in the making and after several pivots in the restaurant concept, Jabee Williams said that reception has been nothing short of fantastic, having to turn away would-be patrons at closing time on opening day.


“It was packed. I don't know how many we made off the top. We probably made about 500 or 600 pizzas, probably. We had a line out the door for hours. It was non-stop until the restaurant closed. 9 o’clock was our last customer. Literally. We just had to lock the door because we didn’t want to let anyone else in,” Williams said.


The pizzeria opened with five specialty pizzas and a build-you-own option, all served on Eastside Pizza House’s signature black crust. The blackness is not from char though. Williams said he likes to tell people that it has melanin in it, but regular pizza crust is available and that both taste the same.


For now, you can only order whole pizza, but by-the-slice sales begin in March, he said.


“We want to kind of let our team get our bearings and make sure our team is solid. A lot of them haven't done pizza before, so we want to make sure to get a good routine and then introduce it,” Williams said.


There will also be new specialty pizzas soon, including one already listed on the menu.


“We were wanting to do a collaboration with Leo's BBQ on the east side,” he said.


click to enlarge Eastside Pizza House - THE JABEE AND CLARA LUPER PIZZAS
  • The Jabee and Clara Luper pizzas
  • Eastside Pizza House

Leo’s BBQ opened in 1974 and last year relocated inside the new Homeland at 625 NE 36th St. That store, along with the smaller Homeland-operated The Market grocer at EastPoint and now Eastside Pizza House are oases in what had recently become a food desert.


“I knew I wanted to do a restaurant. I knew we needed more food over there, so that's where the idea for doing restaurant came from. It being a pizza restaurant kind of changed from being sushi to burgers to pizza. We started with sushi because I had a partner I was working with from LA and he had a sushi concept out there that I really liked and so a lot of what I've been wanting to do is take the things I've seen traveling or in different cities and bring those things that I really liked, the cool stuff, back to the city. He had a poke concept and it was really cool. He had been on Food Network and stuff like that with it and he created like a poke donut and some more stuff and so, right after we announced it, then poke just blew up, you know what I’m saying? And so we decided to go a different direction. From there, he had another concept, a burger concept, that I really liked too and so that was the initial concept,” Williams said.


click to enlarge Eastside Pizza House - BERLIN GREEN
  • Berlin Green
  • Eastside Pizza House

But then along came the pandemic.


“After COVID and all the setbacks and stuff, we were just trying to figure out a way to kind of flow with the changing times. We weren't sure if people were going to eat inside and chill. Everything was shifting to takeout, carry out and delivery,” he said.


Williams said that he’s already eyeing more restaurant concepts, returning to the burger joint next and then building a spot for late-night eats. But for now, he’s just enjoying the fruits of his labor in the part of Oklahoma City he knows and loves.


click to enlarge Eastside Pizza House - BERLIN GREEN
  • Berlin Green
  • Eastside Pizza House

“It feels really good. It's just a long time coming. You’re running in that race and you finally get to a place in the race where you can kind of see a finish line, you know what I mean? I just feel like after all the changes and all the years and the times when we thought we may not be able to pull it off, it just feels good to see it actually come to life and be exactly what I had envisioned … It's just awesome to be in the community where I grew up and have a business there,” Williams said.


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