By Sarah Dupuy
If the University of Georgia is the head of Athens, downtown is certainly its heart. Whether it’s to celebrate a big win between the hedges or stop for a coffee break between classes, most UGA students will spend some time downtown during their college career. Still, there is one part of downtown Athens that is often overlooked: the people who run the show. Ted’s Most Best, despite only being around for the past four years, is an Athens landmark with its strung-up light bulbs and bamboo forest right in the middle of Washington Street.
The story behind the restaurant’s name is heartbreaking, but it shows how much love went into the restaurant’s opening and its continued success. Jessica Green, who owns another Athens staple, The Grit, opened Ted’s Most Best with her friend Jay Totty. Ted was the name of Green’s husband who had passed away. When Green and Totty started tossing around the idea of opening a pizza joint, the name seemed like a perfect fit. Pedro De Paz has been working at Ted’s since its opening four years ago, and it’s the people that have kept him here for so long.
“My favorite thing about working at Ted’s?” De Paz says. “Definitely the people: the customers, the different kinds of people and their families. And just my bosses in general. They are some of the best people I’ve ever worked for in a restaurant. Employees that work here then leave, they always come back. But people leaving this place? Never really happens.”
In addition to pizza, which is made fresh starting with the dough, Ted’s has plenty of options for Italian-style comfort food. There are panini sandwiches, pasta, calzones and homemade cheesecake. And with over 40 possible toppings to choose from - pancetta to provolone - you’re sure to find something you love. Allie Parker is another long-time employee, and she can’t recommend their salads enough. “Our salads are very fresh. We use locally sourced arugula. They’re super filling for being salads, and they’re all really tasty and healthy.”
Ted’s Most Best does more than just churn out delicious Italian food. They give back to the community in both big and small ways. On Tuesdays, Ted’s Most Best hosts a bingo night, and every Sunday a band plays on their outdoor stage. During the fall, there’s pumpkin carving for the kids and space for local artists to display their crafts. Creature Comforts, a local brewery, is just around the corner from Ted’s. They offer local discounts to be used after a visiting the brewery. Finishing off a night of beer-tasting with pizza and friends is the perfect way to spend an evening in downtown Athens, all thanks to the wonderful people who work behind the scenes to ensure Ted’s is the best it can be.