The new Terminator High sneakers honoring Tennessee State University and Slim & Husky's will drop on November 10.

Pizza News

Just for Kicks: This Pizza Chain Inspired Nike’s New Sneakers

To get your restaurant's name on the Terminator High series, it helps to be as hip—and socially conscious—as Slim & Husky's.

What does it take to get your pizzeria named on a pair of Nike sneakers? It helps to be as hip as Slim & Husky’s, the fast-growing Black-owned Nashville-based chain with a strong social conscience.

Co-founder Clint Gray today announced the official drop date for the special Terminator High sneakers from Nike that pay homage to both Tennessee State University (TSU)—alma mater to Gray and his partners, Derrick Moore and Emanuel Reed—and Slim & Husky’s, which has 11 locations and two food trucks in Tennessee, Georgia and California.

Nike has created other shoes in honor of the country’s historically Black colleges and universities as part of its Yardrunners campaign, but this edition was designed with input from Gray, Moore and Reed, all former TSU football players. According to Gray’s October 19 post, the sneakers will become available on November 10.

Related: Minneapolis’ first Black-owned pizza company keeps growing

The shoes feature TSU’s signature blue and white colors, but each pair also sports its own unique tiger-stripe pattern “representing your authentic journey as a TSU Tiger.” There’s an embroidered T on the heel and insoles, while the outer tongues bear a blue Nike swoosh and Slim & Husky’s name—Slim on one shoe and Husky on the other.

On the right shoe, the gold-tipped lace design celebrates the legendary TSU women’s track and field team, the Tigerbelles, who won 16 gold medals in the 1960 Olympics. With the words “The Boys,” the left shoelace recognizes TSU for having the most football players drafted into the NFL.

Finally, the inside tongue features the words, “Get Geeked,” TSU’s homecoming mantra and party anthem.

Since opening the first Slim & Husky’s location in North Nashville in 2017, Gray, Moore and Reed have focused on bringing artisan pizza to underserved communities. Advocating for positive social change and community empowerment while emphasizing hip-hop music and the arts in every store, the trio supports and promotes other Black-owned businesses and helps send young people to college through their $1,000 PREAM scholarships, awarded to Slim & Husky’s employees who are graduating seniors with a 2.5 GPA. (PREAM is an acronym for the founders’ motto, “Pizza Rules Everything Around Me.”)

This photo shows a number of oblong-shaped pizzas from Slim & Husky's
(Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria)

As Gray told Success magazine recently, he and his partners rejected more developed or gentrified areas of Nashville—like East Nashville and Midtown, where Vanderbilt University is located—when looking for the right place to open their first store. “It felt like we weren’t needed [there],” Gray said. “It didn’t feel like our purpose.”

North Nashville, on the other hand, was something of a food desert at the time. “We all have family in North Nashville, an area of the city that has been neglected for years,” Gray told Success. “What contributed to its downfall was putting Interstate 40 in the middle of it, cutting off economic progress and leading to the same things you’ll see in any African-American neighborhood across the country not supported by the city.”

Since Slim & Husky’s opened, that part of North Nashville has prospered, with additional restaurants, bars and a clothing store—all Black-owned—operating nearby.

So how good is Slim & Husky’s pizza? Let’s put it this way: The owners were named semifinalists for the 2023 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurateur. That should tell you plenty.

“We’re not just a pizza company,” Gray told Success. “We’re dreamers and risk-takers, but the overall definition of who we are is community guys. The more you become successful, the more you reach down and pull people up with you. We want to do things differently, and pizza is our tool to be able to connect with the masses. We knew if we all just stuck together, nothing could really stop us.”