Grabbing a bigger slice of the market
By their own accounts, the owners of downtown Lee’s Summit’s Main Slice have had a “crazy” last two years.
Traffic is not only exponentially up in the entire business district, but the New York-style pizza joint has seen record numbers at 235 SE Main Street — a spot where literally thousands of pizzas go into the oven every single week.
Pat Maloney, Alex Ruiz, Josh McKay and Ben Wine opened the joint in June of 2014 — just in time for the first of back-to-back Kansas City Royals World Series runs. But even after that hype died down, the restaurant has only experienced a steady rise in customers and business.
“It’s honestly blown away anything we thought we could do out of the water,” said Maloney, a veteran of the restaurant business who has worked with Neighborhood Café owner Tony Olson at his company, Snax Management, as well as with other familiar spots in Lee’s Summit like Tanner’s and Westside Grill.
As the demand increased, so did the owners’ realization that expansion was not just a topic of discussion, but soon becoming reality.
“We were looking at looking and that location on Douglas opened up,” said Maloney, referring to 1196 NE Douglas St., the site of the former Sebella’s Wood Fired Pizza. With delivery demand on the rise and an understanding that, logistically, deliveries going out of the often-packed SE Main Street in downtown would be nearly impossible, the owners made the move.
Opening its doors on June 22 — almost four years to the day that the original Main Slice doors were unlocked — the pizza purveyors took their concepts of funky pies and fresh ingredients to the next level with a spot that focuses solely on to-go and delivery orders.
And by design, all prep work, including dough and sauce preparation, are done at the new Douglas location to ensure consistency between both buildings.
The opening on Douglas — finally — gives an answer to that burning question that came via telephone nearly daily: “Do you deliver?” Maloney recalls. “We got that all the time.”
The new spot is putting out 75-100 pies a day right now, a number which will surely pick up as more and more customers around Lee’s Summit learn of the delicacy that is the KC Stockyard, the precocious Cry’n Hawaiian pie or the sausage-lovers dream come true, the Abe Froman.
Of course, the original spot is reaping the rewards of consistency of staff and product (four employees have been there since the beginning) and the traction of a downtown that has done nothing but grow in food and drink options and nightlife since 2014.
Even as parking becomes more and more a commodity, Maloney said he sees the silver lining in his street being the most trafficked in all of downtown.
“I see it as more of making it an experience,” he said. “If you have to park a few blocks away, stop and look at some new shops and get to know other spots you may not.”
One such parking predicament came a few years ago when a 78-year-old customer of Main Slice — a regular as it were — had to park past Market and Second streets during Downtown Days to retrieve his weekly calzone. He was so far away, Maloney drove him back to his vehicle afterward.
Such is the life of a small business owner. Above and beyond are the daily ritual for many businesses in downtown Lee’s Summit.
“This is downtown. This is why it’s award-winning,” Maloney said. “As long as I have a say, we will never leave this location.”
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.