Walking into Mellow Mushroom can be a bit disorienting.
Located in Main Street’s West End, the main entrance is small, and signs advertise the several other doors and paths to enter.
Once you find it, the central hallway is painted with mushroom men and rainbows and leads to a standard open room with high industrial ceilings, wooden floors and the smell of hot stone-baked pizza.
Disco balls, neon clocks, paintings and more mushroom figures are scattered around the sides and walls.
A single TV in a corner shows a football game and families, young people and students are scattered around the large room.
With an array of colors and a ’70s feel, the restaurant has the potential for sensory overload; however, the open room, dim lighting and quiet buzz of music all contribute to the bright bohemian atmosphere.
Dressed in cargo shorts, a polo and a baseball cap, the general manager is no exception to the relaxed, friendly attitude characteristic of all of the wait staff.
He said this location is in its 12th year of business, which is unusual for a downtown Greenville restaurant.
He explained that they decided on the location after hearing of the plans for the Greenville Drive stadium. The general manager has been there for 10 years now and has seen the community change and grow.
Mellow Mushroom is a franchise based in Atlanta and, for the most part, additoinal locations are close to Georgia and the Carolinas with the exception of a few in Texas.
A bit different for a franchise, Mellow Mushroom offers discounts to all Greenville County employees (including police officers, firefighters, etc.) and engages in a variety of fundraisers and volunteer work to help give back to the community.
The general manager, along with other staff members, has made breakfast for shelters in town, and right now the restaurant is selling tumblers for No Kid Hungry (a national organization that fights child hunger).
The Greenville location typically has five to six large promotions for donations every year.
On the glorious subject of its pizzas, the Mellow Mushroom crust is the unique and most secret part of their menu.
With a recipe that is strictly classified, the general manager said the main ingredients and allergen information is shared—the rest is known only by corporate.
The disclosed portion of the crust recipe, a bit unorthodox when it comes to pizza, has molasses, natural spring water and a special yeast.
A draw to many customers is that the final product is vegan, vegetarian and available in a gluten free version.
When sitting down to eat, service is friendly but also fast.
Drinks were served within minutes and the pizza was ready around 15 minutes after it was ordered.
The menu is original to pizza restaurants, including hoagies, salads, pizzas and calzones.
The general manager and a Mellow Mushroom waitress agreed that their most popular pizza is the Kosmic Karma: special crust topped with Roma and sundried tomatoes, feta, mozzarella and spinach and completed with a swirl of pesto.
This is on the tamer side of the specialty pizzas, the rest ranging in creativity from curry chicken to red skin potato pie.
Pricewise, Mellow Mushroom’s pizzas are relatively more expensive than the typical neighborhood pizza store. A 14-inch Kosmic costs $19.99, but the high quality, noticed first by the lack of grease, justifies the higher price tag.
And if you’re not particularly venturesome with your pies, Mellow Mushroom also offers a build-your-own pizza option (or calzones or salads).
This restaurant, described by one waitress as a “very fantastic homey environment,” shines in its service and product.
The open kitchen and relaxed staff further the company’s wish to make a healthy, delicious and allergy-friendly eating experience.
However, as is common with quality, the cost is higher than most people tend to spend on pizza, and Mellow Mushroom is still a franchise, not locally owned.
But the unusual style of the restaurant makes it unforgettable, and its sweet in-house pizza is definitely mellow.