St. Augustine Record
Hillary’s Chicago Style Pizza, located at 1974 US 1 in St. Augustine is revving up for football season and evenings lined up as night’s too busy to cook.
Owned and operated by Hillary Lake and her husband Bruce, the Chicago couple celebrate their hometown, upside-down, high-sided, deep-dish pizza by opening Hillary’s Chicago Style Pizza earlier this year.
The restaurant also offers tavern-style, thin crust pizzas cut into squares – with vegan and gluten free crusts – along with appetizers, calzones and sandwiches.
While thrilled to be sharing their pizza cuisine in the Ancient City, the couple is no stranger to the food industry.
“Having owned a neighborhood bar in Chicago, Bruce and I know how to run a kitchen,” Hillary said. “And we know how much fun a neighborhood bar can be.”
The couple moved to Jacksonville in 2018 to care for a sick parent. During the Covid pandemic, Hillary, a self-described explorative eater, said that she played with pizza recipes to satisfy her own cravings.
“Facebook pizza pictures led to requests for deliveries, pick-ups, and eventually farmer’s markets and pop-ups,” she said. “I was even approached to restart a food truck.”
It wasn’t long before the coupled garnered enough customers to know that they needed more than a commissary kitchen in Jacksonville with no air-conditioning to cook.
Confident that Hillary’s culinary creations would be viable for a business, the couple jumped at the opportunity to share a St. Augustine storefront called Brewz N Dawgz. When approached to purchase the business, they worked with the Women’s Food Alliance and initiated a successful Honeycomb Credit crowd-funding campaign.
“Between family, friends and Honeycomb Credit, we raised $50,000 to buy the business,” she said. “We would later discover that many of the investors were customers and St. Augustine residents.”
Hillary underscored that Honeycomb Credit is nothing like a GoFundMe campaign.
Investors support local business – upon review of all financials – and get back their original investment money with interest.
Hillary said that she was pleasantly surprised at the community’s reaction.
“We have been so welcomed here,” she said. “I never realized how much I would love living in a small town. St Augustine’s a neighborhood; a true community of supportive people who welcome relationships.”
Inspired by Hillary’s work at the North Florida School of Special Education during the pandemic, the couple also plan on building a pizza farm that will be nurtured and cared for by people with intellectual differences.
“With no catering jobs available because of the pandemic, I worked at the school,” Hillary said. “The students – those who were autistic or who had Down’s Syndrome – helped to cater lunch and work on our food truck. These kids were magical. And employable.”
To learn more about Hillary’s Chicago Style Pizza, visit https://www.hillaryschicagopizza.com/