Owners Jason and Shannon Pryor met in 1999 while working for Amazon.com; Shannon in Seattle and Jason in Atlanta. When it was obvious this was to be a long-term relationship Shannon relocated to Atlanta to be closer to Jason. Shortly thereafter the couple moved to Shannon's hometown of Kansas City and settled in Brookside where Jason went back to work for Costco Wholesale Company.
Jason noticed the old gas station for sale on the corner of 51st and Oak. He was convinced it was a perfect location for a college pizza joint.
The development of Pizza 51 began in October of 2002, almost 2 years before the restaurant opened its doors. Major hurdles included obtaining a liquor license, completing environmental testing to verify the safety of serving food from an old gas station and securing a loan. As Jason worked to get all the required pieces in order, the couple became pregnant and were due with their first child, Rachel, in February of 2004. Joshua joined the family in April of 2006, and Edyn Mae joined us in July of 2010.
Pizza 51 opened its doors to a hungry public on September 15, 2004. Since then Pizza 51 has become an integral part of the Brookside and South Plaza neighborhoods. What was conceived as a college hangout, was embraced as a great place to eat by neighbors of all ages.
Jason Pryor is an active member of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association having served as President in 2008 and 2009, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. Pizza 51 is also proud to be members of and participate with the Southtown Council and the South Plaza Neighborhood Associations. Jason has served as president of the Countryside Neighborhood Association, the Food Advisory Board for the Kansas City Health Department, and as co-chair and Mayor's representative on the Neighborhood Tourism & Development Fund.
In 2008 and 2009 the couple began plugging away on the behind-the-scenes work to secure and soon open a second location. Nestled in the family-friendly neighborhood of Fairway, KS along Mission Road, the couple saw the opportunity to extend their concept's reach and in many ways mirror the great aspects that people had come to love of their original location.
What became Pizza 51 West, these included great pizza, being housed in a once-operational gas station and boasting a large patio for outdoor eating and enjoyment. Pizza 51 West opened on September 27, 2011 with a very warm welcome from the people of Fairway, Prairie Village and other neighboring areas. Having partnered with The Roasterie Coffee Company and The Clock Tower Bakery, Pizza 51 West proudly serves coffee and dessert items to accommodate lunch or dinner.
In 2012, the Pryors were approached by long-time friends who were exploring the possibility of renovating an historic building in downtown KC. The 1881 structure known as the Cosby Hotel, was days away from demolition when new ownership committed to restore it to its previous glory. Considered to be Kansas City's first deli, the Milwaukee Deli operated at 9th and Baltimore from 1901-1930.
Unable to be in three places at one time, the Pryors leveraged their pizza experience and teamed up with Jon Gerner, who had honed his front of house skills for many years at Grand Street Cafe and The Free State Brewery. After meticulous restoration and assistance from the Downtown Council and Landmark Credits, the 1881 architectural details were revealed to the public on November 20th, 2013 as the Milwaukee Delicatessen Company. Upon visiting the Milwaukee Deli, you will find your favorite pizza along with some of the city's best deli sandwiches, including two variations of the classic Reuben. Made-from-scratch soups and a full bar expand the experience found at the other locations.
We want to make your Pizza 51 dining experience the very best it can be! We welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.
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