How did an American family end up acquiring Georgian citizenship and starting the most successful pizza chain in Georgia? Who ARE these people?
Eric and Amy Binder actually grew up in Central and South America; both are artists, and they have three sons. They have lived in Georgia for more than a decade, and have designed and built their own house in Tbilisi, as well as naming their franchise after both of their fathers: Ronny’s Pizza.
Ronny’s began with its original location on Gamsakhurdia Avenue, soon moving a short distance to Vazha-Pshavela. It has since added a branch on Paliashvili Str. in Vake, with a third due to open before the end of 2017 in Gldani. Business is flourishing, with eat-in, take-out, online ordering and delivery options available of the best pizza around.
While I was in Tbilisi, I caught up with the Binders at home a few days ago, in a huge kitchen-living room-dining room open plan space, with beautifully naturally-textured raw concrete the main indoor material and a massive set of glass doors overlooking the city of Tbilisi. Oil-painted canvases stretched on wood frames are scattered over the walls and stacked vertically on the floor; white ones await inspiration. The fall’s meager but delicious harvest of wine grapes cover an island in the kitchen waiting to be pressed.
We stopped on the way home to have some choice cuts of steak ground for the evening’s homemade flame-grilled burgers, which are definitely a cut above anything else. Here is a family which loves and achieves quality in design and execution, no matter the medium.
I dossed down for the night on an opened-out sofa-bed, and next morning Eric gave me my first ever cup of coffee from freshly roast and ground green beans, thus ensuring my near-addiction to this freshest possible version of the drink. He uses an industrial heat gun turned low to roast the beans in a small porcelain bowl, lets their skins fall through a coarse mesh screen, cools them briefly, and uses a hand burr grinder. A precise timing in water of exactly the right temperature, filtering through paper into a jar, and the elixir is ready. I might be accused of adulterating it with milk AND sugar, but he was diplomatic enough to say nothing of my taste. As for you, you can try the fresh roasted beans in your own order, they way you like it, at Ronny’s, too.
The result? As good as it sounds, every bit. I’m not going to exceed the “recommended daily allowance”, but I did go out and buy myself one of those heat guns and begin seeking the green beans here in the city. Having seen the process from start to finish, realizing by my own comparison that fresh-roasted beans are much more richly flavorful then those left a long time, I know that this is another product that Hanmer Guest House can offer its guests to stand out. We, too, love quality. The green beans also have the great advantage that they can be left raw much more successfully than roasted ones. How can I ever go back?
The newest Ronny’s location, opening in bustling, booming Gldani very soon, is literally two minutes’ walk from our flat. So, although we are rarely in Tbilisi (this might improve once we downsize the cow herd to zero), it seems likely to become a favorite evening out for us. I can hardly wait.
Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1700 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/
He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri: