Making a Home with Tina Dickson of Ingleside Village Pizza
By Traci Burns
Photography by Jave Bjorkman
Tina Dickson is Macon restaurant royalty. As owner and operator of Ingleside Village Pizza, which will celebrate its 28th anniversary this summer, she’s responsible for creating and nurturing one of Middle Georgia’s most beloved, iconic, delicious destinations.
Everybody loves IVP – kids, adults, hipsters, grandparents, college students and young professionals all show up to eat sloppy breadsticks and perfect pizzas while admiring the restaurant’s funky, artsy décor.
Tina made Macon cool before that was the cool thing to do, and her hands-on, no-nonsense management style, combined with her excellent taste and warm, easy wit, helped grow this independent business into a local powerhouse.
Born and raised in Macon, Tina loves her city and her community. She moved to Orange Street with her husband, Trevor, and her daughter, Eliza – who has since left the nest, but still lives nearby – nearly 20 years ago, and she’s made her house into an inviting oasis away from the hubbub of her work life. Her parties, held outside by the pool in the summertime, are legendary.
Artwork from local artists is prominently displayed alongside thrift-store finds and sentimental, sweet treasures. The newly-remodeled kitchen is where Tina prefers to hold court, cooking or creating or just chilling in her favorite spot, telling a good story and laughing the kind of charming laugh that invites guests to laugh along with her.
“Originally, the kitchen had heart of pine cabinets, and the floor was Mexican tile. It had a totally different feel to it. I’m sure it was top of the line back in the ‘80s when it was built, but 40 years later the drawers were getting kinda squeaky. I love it now. We just got finished with this kitchen remodel. I didn’t have a kitchen all through Christmas last year.”
“This is my hangout room. Everything you need is close by, and there’s such nice light. I love nice light. I hate coming home to an overhead light on – ahh, stop that! That isn’t good for anybody! I’m in here all the time. I cook a lot. I like to bake. The last thing I made was some puff pastry dessert thing for me and my kid. Cream cheese in the middle, blueberries on top. I like to take different recipes and sort of fuse them together. I love Pinterest, I can get sucked down that rabbit hole easy. And I never make pizza at home. Why would I do that?”
“I’m pretty proud of this hula lamp. I ordered this for my husband for Christmas. It came from Hawaii and I was horrified when I opened the box and took her out. She had the ugliest face I have ever seen. I mean, it was bad bad bad. I emailed the company and sent pictures, like ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’ One guy wrote back and said, ‘Wouldn’t you like a craft project?’ Okay, I guess. They gave me back a little money and I painted it myself. She’s no fashion model now, but she’s way better than she was.”
“I love this table. Trevor built this for me. It’s a door from the first house we owned. I started sliding Eliza’s baby pictures under the glass. Several of them have been pilfered, and several have adhered themselves to the glass so they’re there permanently. I love it so much.”
“This is my $75 curio cabinet from Macon Rescue Mission. I painted it black – boom! A whole new piece of furniture. That’s my mother-in-law’s trick: ‘You’ll like it so much better if you just paint it black.'”
“We’ve lived here 18, 19 years. I have loved living downtown. When Eliza was little, we discovered that there’s not really a great place for a kid to ride a bike around here, but we’ve got a cool park right over there. It’s close to my work. Got a great pool in the backyard. Can’t beat it!”
“When we moved here, the pool was filled in with clay. Trevor and his buddies unearthed it, and amazingly they didn’t damage the walls. You can see a couple scrapes here and there, but really they did such a good job. At first, we just had an umbrella in a stand and a couple chairs back there, and it was hot – too hot. I remember one day my family came over to swim and we were all huddled up under that umbrella trying not to explode in the sun. I felt so bad! We knew we had to do something else, so Trevor got out there and built a pavilion, then he put a fireplace under there, then built even more pavilion. It has just evolved. It’s the perfect place in the summertime. Trevor and his buddies hang out there a lot. So many beer cans, probably a bottle of Beam sitting out there.”
“This is my surprise picture that Eliza’s making for me – the surprise will be when she gets it finished! She’s such a good artist. All these guns are gonna turn into pizza peels, and this guy here is gonna be holding a pizza cutter behind his back. My mother-in-law gave me this original picture and it has been just hanging out somewhere in here for a while – look! She’s got the naked lady in there, too! We had a naked lady painting in the men’s room of IVP but we had to pull her out. Little boys would come out of there giggling. I got two phone calls about it, so I had to take it out. It’s up in the main dining room where everybody can see it now.”
“I told Eliza the other day that I was saving a spot over the TV to hang this and she said, ‘I thought that was gonna go to the pizza place!’ Dang it! But it’s my gift, I guess I can hang it wherever I want to.”
“This stained glass was here when we moved in. I really liked it. Also, this room – I haven’t painted it. I haven’t painted the foyer. People told me that the woman who lived here before, all she did was paint rooms and repaint rooms. She’s got good taste!”
“These are the Seven Deadly Sins – I got ‘em from some flea market. I remember one time seeing some lady on “Antiques Roadshow” bring them in, and I was like, hey, I’ve got that! And turns out it was worth the $10 I paid for it. I love the Macon Rescue Mission, that’s my favorite place. I have good luck there. I go antique shopping less than I used to, though. I’m running out of places to put stuff! I don’t want to have one of those houses where every drawer and corner and nook and cranny is full of stuff.”
“I’m gonna put these peonies out front – I used to have some out there, but when we had the lawn overhauled a few years ago, they dug up my peonies. It wasn’t their season, so the lawn guys couldn’t see them. I have a little herb garden around back where we park the cars – that’s where we get the basil for the restaurant. I don’t do too terribly much gardening because it just gets too hot, and I stop going outside as much, and it’s sad to watch everything die.”
“When we remodel this bathroom, we’re getting rid of this clawfoot tub. I don’t love it. I wish it had some heaters in it somewhere. This is just a big cold steel porcelain dust-catcher. I hang my bras on it to dry.”
“I made both these quilts. This one is made from my dad’s shirts. I cut ‘em into strips – I call it my Star-Spangled Pops quilt. In 2017, I was in a creative frenzy. I made a quilt for each of my siblings – I have two sisters and a brother. I made pillows for their kids, a pillow for my mom. All for Christmas. I was a machine! I started at the beginning of November, and realized I had all this material. I made the first thing and was like, that wasn’t so bad! I haven’t quilted in a while – now that my room downstairs is all remodeled, I wanna pull my sewing machine back out.”
“Our backyard parties are pretty epic. We have two big parties every year, on the Fourth of July – we call that one Meatfest – and on New Year’s Eve. We had to skip Meatfest last year because travel got in the way. I had the opportunity to travel to Sweden, so of course I took that. But they’re great parties – there’s so much food! Always new people showing up with new food. You never know who’ll be here, it’s such a hodgepodge of folks. One New Year’s Eve, a couple came walking up the alleyway on their way back from the Masked Ball at the Hay House, and they just kinda wandered on into our party with their masks on, and stayed for almost an hour. They ended up being Carey Pickard’s cousins, so we were able to direct them back to their destination. Stuff like that is always happening at these parties.”
“My best hostess tip is to keep it simple. Don’t try to have everything, don’t try to do everything. That’s the same idea I have at the restaurant. People try to do too much and please everybody, but it works out better to just do the things you do well. Somebody’s guaranteed to like at least some of that.”
“Elvis and I have the same birthday, that’s why he’s everywhere. My Elvis stuff is overflowing at IVP, so he’s spilled over into my house. We rented our building at IVP for 17 years, then moved to the new space on the day President Obama was inaugurated for the first time – that’s when we opened our doors. That’s the only way I can remember it! I was so glad something historic was happening on that day, or else I never would remember when it happened.”
“This house has been a lot of work. It’s around 130 years old. It used to belong to Kay Gerhardt, the judge, and her husband, Al. He’s the one who put in all this heart of pine in the original kitchen. I wanted to keep it because it’s such beautiful wood. The guy who did our kitchen demo made sure to do it so that lots of that wood was available to donate to Habitat for Humanity.”
“I struggled over the gray I wanted for the walls. I had swatches everywhere – all around the television. I chose this one because it was as dark as I could go, and I love it.”
“A customer of mine painted that. Justin Goodrich. He is phenomenal. He all of a sudden stumbled onto painting and wow, the things he does. He gave me the Barney Fife painting that hangs in the restaurant. He came in one day and said, ‘I’ve got this painting I did, and I thought maybe I could hang it here.’ I was like, ‘Do you want to put a price tag on it, see if I can sell it?; I didn’t have a problem doing that at all, but he said no, he wanted it to stay there. Yeah! Let’s do that! Even better. “
“This painting was done by Eric Wakefield who owns the Golden Bough. And Debbie Anderson did a painting for me – she had the art place up the street from us on Ingleside. She recently sold it and retired. A lot of these paintings are thrift store finds. I’ve been trying to stay away, but my kid is crazy on the Macon Yard Sale site on Facebook. She keeps sending me stuff from there all day long, tempting me.”
“If I had a dinner gathering and could invite anyone, I’d invite Elvis, of course. Elvis was just a good man, a good person. He gave and gave and gave, and he always took care of his people. Who else? I’d invite Tig Notaro, I’d like to listen to her talk. I like funny people. Mike Birbiglia, I bet he’s fun and interesting. And Jerry Seinfeld – I love Seinfeld.”