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Toddy G's Opens in the Arts District

By Jenni Simcoe
Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010, at 12:27PM
Salman Agah and Todd Giordanella Eric Richardson

Salman Agah and Todd Giordanella stand inside Toddy G’s, their new Arts District pizzeria.

When Salman Agah pioneered the switch stance, he made his mark in professional skateboarding. With that move, Agah was able to ride his skateboard ambidextrously. With his next move, along with business partner Todd Giordanella, Agah hopes to put his professional mark on the Arts District in the form of a neighborhood pizza joint—one that he plans to expand beyond L.A. soon.

“We’ve been friends since my wife introduced me to Todd seven years ago,” said Agah. The duo had a lot in common and kept in touch over the next few years with Agah based in Los Angeles, and Giordanella in New York. At one point, Agah and his wife went to housesit Giordanella’s apartment in Brooklyn while he took a trip to Italy. “He had invested in a pizzeria in Brooklyn,” said Agah. “We visited a lot with his partner while we were in town and we loved the pizzeria.”

The seeds were planted for an idea of starting a pizza place in L.A. with Giordanella, explained Agah. “I was watching the Arts District gentrify over the past six years that I’ve been living here,” he said.

A year and a half ago while walking his dogs, Agah started noticing spaces where a pizza place would fit. The pair actively started looking in their Arts District neighborhood and three times almost settled on spaces only to decide that they weren’t a perfect fit—they were either too small or didn’t have the right parking. Finally they found the bar on 7th Street that Cedd Moses had leased and was working on reopening as Tony’s Saloon.

“We thought being next door to Tony’s would be a very symbiotic relationship,” says Agah. “We have shared parking and we can serve food to their bar patrons.” Toddy G’s opened October 8, and the eatery spent its first month as a cash-only business. Because the duo had spent time and effort on opening, they hadn’t had time to set up a merchant account to accept credit or debit cards. “It was serendipity because it let us focus on getting everything in place before we were busy,” said Agah. “We want to always be able to focus on our local community. We want to know your name and what you like when you walk in the door.

The merchant account was one of two things the duo had to work on after opening. “We’re not delivering yet, but we will be within a month,” said Agah. They plan on using mopeds to delivery pizza to Downtown neighborhoods.

The menu showcases their philosophy of doing things slow to get it right while keeping it simple. “The amount of time we put into developing and sourcing our ingredients from the dough to the cheese shows how committed we are to having the freshest purest ingredients,” said Giordanella. The process of ironing out the menu took approximately 10 weeks, much of which was spent perfecting the crust by milling the flour by hand and mixing it in-house. “Our menu features organic products and humanely treated animals. We try to source everything we can locally,” said Agah.

Opening a business can make a strain on the healthiest relationships, but for Giordanella and Agah, they insist their friendship is as strong as ever. “I’ve got to say that it’s working out really, really well,” said Giordanella. “We are both good communicators and we share the same goals, so when disagreements do arise, we articulate it and since our goals are aligned, we work it out.”

Agah nods his head in agreement and says that opening a restaurant is like starting a band. “A good band knows who the drummer is, and who the guitarist and who the vocalist is and lets them all play their parts without interfering,” he said. “That works for us.”

Toddy G’s Pizza / 2019 E. 7th / 213.627.1430 / toddygs.com

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