The Maneater

Shakespeare’s Pizza temporarily relocates

The old Shakespeare’s building is currently being demolished in order to be turned into a multi-story structure.

Shakespeare’s Pizza employees work behind the counter Tuesday, June 2, 2015, at their new temporary location on Eighth Street in Columbia, Mo. The pizzeria moved 78 feet away from their previous location into the former site of BBC II.

After 42 years in its iconic Ninth Street location, Shakespeare’s Pizza opened its doors at a temporary location on Eighth Street at 5 p.m. on May 29.

The original building that hosted Shakespeare’s will be demolished and turned into a multi-story structure. Shakespeare’s will occupy the first floor of the building with a 50-year lease, general manager Toby Epstein said.

Workers at the downtown pizzeria said they had an emotional attachment to the old building, making the temporary relocation difficult. Epstein said the staff spent almost a week working with carpenters to take old significant elements apart to bring them into the new building.

“There was a pole behind the counter that had years and years of employees’ measurements," Epstein said. "All along it has marks of people’s heights, so we are taking it and putting it here. When we call out your name, we have a ticket, and when we are done with it, we put in a nail. That nail is here. It was taken down and put here.”

The building that saw many generations of students was considered by many a symbol of the MU experience.

“My mom went to Mizzou, and it was cool coming in and her saying, ‘This is where I used to come,'” sophomore Daniel Rice said. “This is more modern, which is nice. But at the same time, the other location had a more traditional atmosphere.”

The demolition of Shakespeare’s is just one example of the consequences of the growth and development Columbia is experiencing. Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said there are rumors that out-of-town corporations are still interested in developing student housing complexes. The proximity to campus makes downtown a popular area to build these complexes, he said.

Skala said the identity of the downtown community could be threatened by the many housing projects built for students.

“The demographics and statistics suggest to me that we have approached a level in which we are getting really close to a housing bubble,” Skala said.

McAlester Park is developing the property. The Columbia Tribune reported on May 4 that the new building will no taller than six stories. Retail and offices will occupy the first two stories. Apartments are planned for the upper floors.

For manager Kurt Mirtsching, this growth is undeniable. He said he thinks its something that needs to be discussed, in order to provide the best arrangements possible.

“Columbia is going to grow, but how it grows and what shape it takes and what buildings stay or what buildings go is a very important conversation,” Mirtsching said. “I think people who live in Columbia will come to a good consensus and make some good choices. But from Shakespeare’s standpoint, we just want to make pizza at the corner of Ninth and Elm, and we are going to be able to do that for the next 50 years.”

Mirtsching also said upon moving back, they’ll reincorporate many of the old Shakespeare's elements, to make customers’ experience as close to the original as possible. The layouts for the dining rooms will be kept and elements like the paneling and the tin tile ceiling will be salvaged.

For now, Epstein said he is confident that Shakespeare’s Pizza will carry on the traditional value and culture, no matter the location.

“The building is great, and there is lots of nostalgia to it, but that nostalgia is associated with people, not just the building,” Epstein said. “And those people are here now. The story and culture that exists within the company of Shakespeare’s has just come 78 feet over here. I think it is going to stay like this over the years and when we move to the new building it will be stronger and better than ever.”

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