Papa Keno’s Pizzeria will move to a new location this summer located at 837 Massachusetts St. Owners say the new location, formerly the home of Jock’s Nitch, features a bigger kitchen with a modern feel.
David Hawley, one of the owners of the restaurant, said the old space needed drastic improvements that would take too long to finish. David owns the restaurant with his wife, Nora.
“There's only so much you can do without having to shut down and essentially put everybody out of work to shut down,” David said.
David said there will also be bar seating and an upstairs mezzanine in the new space. The upstairs mezzanine can be reserved for small parties and student organizations, he said.
“We’ve never had an event space that we can section off and reserve,” David said.
The new location will also feature a front patio, which David said is one of the largest dining patios on Mass Street. The front patio fits in with the liveliness of the area, David said, which is something both owners said they look forward to.
Nora said she is most excited about the amount of people that will be able to fit into the new space, as the new space is "double the size of the old space," she said.
David said he is looking to keep the same open concept with the customers in the new space.
“We like that interaction,” David said.
Most pizzerias don’t showcase the process of making the food anymore, which is something he values, David said.
“We want [the customers] to appreciate the effort being made going into the food,” David said.
Improvements are also being made to reduce wait times at the new space. The new kitchen will feature two ovens which the owners expect to speed up cooking.
In terms of the design of the new space, David said there’s an old mural inside the restaurant that was covered by the owners at Jock’s Nitch. The mural features KU athletes’ signed names with their graduating year, spanning throughout two or three decades. The Hawleys are planning to preserve the mural and welcome any current student athletes to sign the wall to make a tribute to KU athletes.
The structure of the building is modern, but still has the character of the traditional buildings on Mass Street, David said.
“The finishes are going to be similar [to the old space,] but newer,” David said.
With a bigger kitchen, David said he hopes to expand the menu by adding a traditional Italian beef sandwich. There will be specialty days during the week with new offerings, which will give the staff a chance to perfect certain dishes, David said.
“[The new space] allows us to do more and have more freedom,” David said. “I think our new space delivers a better experience all the way around.”
Papa Keno's will remain open at its current location at 1035 Massachusetts St. with regular hours until the business moves into its new space.