Symfonee (Symf) Henderson, 30, commands a presence when she enters a room. She is thin, but tall and projects an effervescence that sets the tone of a conversation.

As one of the first employees hired to the Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria team, Symf is a veteran who team members often refer to as “The General.” Not only does she know the internal processes inside out, but she also understands the brand and its mission on a profound and personal level.

Starting as a team member, Symf quickly moved up the ranks and currently serves as the Assistant Manager of the Buchanan Street establishment. Her career with the company has been a steady crescendo created through hard work and a desire to contribute to the cause of empowering the black community in Nashville.

Now, she is preparing to assume the role of General Manager (GM) at the upcoming Howell Mill Road location in Atlanta.

symf mural

Lighting the Fire

A trained artist, Symf originally heard about Slim & Husky’s through another artist while working on a community mural with the McGruder Family Resource Center. DoughJoe had recently developed pieces for the company’s Nashville locations and encouraged Symf to learn more about it.

“When I started, originally with the first GM, he interviewed me and I made sure he understood that I would love to be the artist or one of the artists,” Symf said.

Although he considered her interest in producing art for Slim & Husky’s, the restaurant was growing rapidly and needed people to operate on the front lines.

“He asked if I would mind helping out and I said ‘no’,” Symf said. “I’m always into helping out in the community, so I wanted to be a part of it in any way they needed.”

From there, she immersed herself in the employee on-boarding program. Within the first couple of weeks, she was handling tasks outside of her responsibilities and encouraging coworkers during stressful moments and busy hours. Upper management noticed her efforts and she was promoted to team lead; then a few months after, she earned a management spot.

Igniting the Flame

Since childhood, Symf gravitated towards the arts with the support of her parents and teachers at local magnet schools.

She refers to herself as an artrepreneur and always had a vision of her future which included being an artist for a company. More than anything, the Nashville-based artist wanted the ability to express herself while representing a brand she felt she could get behind.

In her early days with Slim & Husky’s, however, Symf was so committed to excelling in the restaurant that she packed her dreams of getting her art in a restaurant away.

“At that time, the art wasn’t even on my mind anymore,” Symf said. “Then, I think they asked me to draw on a sign.”

Relishing in the creativity of the to-do, she drew a meticulous and embellished version of a Grammy award to match the theme of an event that would occur later that day. When she was done, she handed over the sign.

“And they were like, ‘this is dope.’ From there, they started asking me different things and seeing all of what I could do,” she said.

To date, Symf has delivered a variety of art pieces to Slim & Husky’s. But, she felt most fulfilled after designing the S&H pizza box for Tennessee State University’s (TSU) Homecoming in 2017 for the 105th anniversary of the institution. The S&H foundersE.J. Reed, Derrick Moore, and Clint Grayas well as Symf are TSU alumni and treated the project as an honor.

Her box design was such a huge hit that people still ask about it at the restaurant today, nearly two years later.

symf tsu pizza box

“To be a part of Slim and Husky’s and to sit here and to have had a box that I produced, that I helped create, bring to life for the culture,” Symf said. “And then to have t-shirts produced and made out of them is amazing.”

Another installation Symf maintains creative ownership over is the theme of The Rollout, the cinnamon roll off-shoot of the Slim & Husky’s brand. With a fun, vibrant, 90s vibe, the design of The Rollout station in every S&H restaurant is distinct and matches the unique flavors of the cinnamon rolls themselves.

As new locations open, like the two set to launch in Atlanta this year, Symf will leave her imprint on the spaces. For Symf, though, everything started on Buchanan Street.

Burning Passions Align

The North Nashville area holds a special place in Symf’s heart. She grew up on 22nd Avenue, but gentrification pushed her family out of the neighborhood and into West Nashville.

Now, she’s back and managing a fast casual pizza restaurant in the area she left so long ago.

“With what is going on in the world, we need some positivity,” Symf explained. “We need to see that there can be growth amongst us all in a community that’s trying to change.”

Whether she is painting a mural or greeting customers, Symf enjoys the work she is doing with Slim & Husky’s.

“It’s because people love it. We’re here for them to enjoy the pizza and we gotta make the pizza for them. We gotta be proud of it,” Symf said. “I’ve taken pride in it since day one.”