Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

GattiTown, a Texas-based pizza palace, to open in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — GattiTown, a Texas-based pizza palace once dubbed "Chuck E. Cheese's on steroids," is coming to Clearwater, the chain's first hop into the Sunshine State.

Opening Monday in the Bayside Bridge Plaza on McMullen-Booth Road, the buffet-and-bumper-car "eatertainment" venue will feature arcade games and party rooms attuned to families, youngsters and their friends.

GattiTown finds its center between tot-targeted restaurants like Chuck E. Cheese's and grown-up attractions like GameWorks or Dave & Buster's. There are no ball pits or bounce houses, nor beer or bloody shooting games.

Instead, stretched across 16,000 square feet are enough lights and video screens to keep an entire Little League enthralled. A Tampa investment firm is hoping it's enough to charm their parents, too.

"GattiTown is the premier pizza place with games in it," said Dharma Malempati, the president of Om Ventures, which owns development rights for the GattiTown chain in four Florida counties. "There's no easy word to define what this actually is until you walk in."

There is GattiPark, a sports room with TV screens several yards long; the Capitol Theatre, a room named after the downtown Clearwater landmark where cartoons and comedies will be screened; and the Midway, an arcade with dozens of games, a mini-bowling alley and a bumper-car arena.

Pizza, "SpaGatti" pastas and desserts are served at the "All-You-Care-To-Eat-&-Drink" buffet bar and the "Clearwater Fresh Market" salad bar, another nod to the chain's first Florida home. Adults get a plate for $8; kids, $5 to $7.

It is Om Ventures' first retail project, Malempati said, but they plan to expand the chain across the state, though their locations and projected income remain under wraps. The nearest GattiTowns are in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Greenville, S.C., 600 miles away.

Called The Pizza Place when it was opened in a small Texas town in 1964, its founder, a retired U.S. Air Force officer, later renamed it using his wife's maiden name (pronounced "Gaddy").

More than 125 GattiTowns and Gatti's Pizza restaurants now span the country, many the size of a Publix grocery store. The largest, at 70,000 square feet, includes a mini-golf course and an indoor go-kart track.

The franchise came to Clearwater due to its demographics; owners wanted 300,000 people on middle incomes within a 10-mile radius. About 18 months ago, crews began preparing the leased space for construction.

The Clearwater GattiTown's 65 employees began training this week in advance of Monday's soft opening. A grand opening is being planned for the weekend of Dec. 9.

The owners have done little advertising, talking mostly with school principals, Little League teams and religious youth groups. They're hoping that will keep them afloat amid a tough business climate.

"We felt our product, and the value we bring to the consumer, is good in a recession," Malempati said. "We offer a lot of value to a family."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or

GattiTown, a Texas-based pizza palace, to open in Clearwater 11/09/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2011 11:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. PolitiFact Florida: Claim that 5.7 million noncitizens voted is wrong

    State Roundup

    President Donald Trump's unfounded allegations that millions voted illegally in 2016 is back in the news, with his supporters pointing to a new analysis that claims millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2008.

    Instances of noncitizens voting have been reported, but evidence points to a small number among millions of votes cast.  
  2. For Fourth of July, an American feast inspired by founding father Alexander Hamilton


    Are there a million things you haven't done? Is one of them throwing a patriotic party inspired by one of the founding fathers?

    Caribbean Pork With Potato Salad makes for the perfect Fourth of July meal.
  3. 'Baby Driver' literally turns heist movie genre on its ear, set to slick soundtrack


    Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.

    Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for heist arranger Doc (Kevin Spacey). Plagued by tinnitus, Baby tunes out his distracting “hum in the drum” by listening to music while he drives.
Sony Pictures
  4. Former mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor
  5. Life after HB7069 to be discussed at Pinellas school district workshop


    The Pinellas County school district is still trying to navigate life after the controversial passage of HB7069.