Crossroads Pizza Smackdown

A Papa Keno's Pizzeria billboard went up next to Pizzabella in mid-November.

By Kevin Collison

As far as Philippe Lechevin is concerned, his new Papa Keno Pizzeria at 1815 Wyandotte is bringing New York-style pizza to a hungry Crossroads.

But to Shari Boles, owner of Pizzabella at 1810 Baltimore, it’s more like New York-style chutzpah.

In mid-November, a Papa Keno’s billboard went up next to her restaurant proclaiming “Big Slices This Way” with an arrow pointing to her new neighbor.

And that saucy sign has shattered the thin-crust serenity of the Crossroads pizza world.

“Why would anyone do that?” Boles asked. “I’m at a loss.

“Pizzabella has been in the Crossroads for 10 years and plowed a lot of ground for other retail restaurants. We consider people neighbors, including competitors.

Art of Pizza has been across the street for 10 years and we’ve co-existed well.”

Lechevin said the billboard site was chosen because of its great visibility and proximity, not to dis his neighbor. This is his fourth Papa Keno outlet, the others are in Lawrence, Overland Park and Westport.

“We did it because of where we’re located,” he said. “The billboard is near our back entrance. You turn your head and you’ll see us right there.

“We’re new in the neighborhood. We don’t compete with them, we’re more a New York-style restaurant, we sell pizza by the slice.

“What they do is different from what we do.”

Pizzabella does craft a more artisanal individual pizza and bakes it in a wood-fire oven. It also has a classy, contemporary interior to go along with its food.

And there’s only one Pizzabella.

“We’re a very small, very local, very family business, why would anybody do that?” Boles asked.

But Lechevin considers his neighbor’s complaint half-baked.

“Nothing on our billboard says our pizza is better than yours, it’s just a slice of pizza and an arrow,” he said.

“It’s not like it’ll be there forever.”