Mesa Pizza expands to Uptown

It will open its second Minneapolis location on Lake Street this week.

Mesa Pizza owner David Hathaway poses for a photo in front of the mural painted on the wall of his new uptown location Monday morning. The mural was painted by local artist Sherri Faye who also did the mural at Tonys Diner where Hathaway frequents.

Erin Westover

Mesa Pizza owner David Hathaway poses for a photo in front of the mural painted on the wall of his new uptown location Monday morning. The mural was painted by local artist Sherri Faye who also did the mural at Tony’s Diner where Hathaway frequents.

by Megan Nicolai

Mesa Pizza, a long-time diet staple for University of Minnesota students, is expanding into the Uptown neighborhood this week.

This will be the third location for the pizza chain, which also has a store in Iowa City, Iowa, near the University of Iowa campus. Mesa is known for offbeat flavors like macaroni and cheese, bacon cheeseburger, and Southern Gentleman âÄî a mix of mashed potatoes, Cajun chicken, bacon and cheddar.

The pizza-by-the-slice restaurant will open its doors to hungry customers either Tuesday or Wednesday this week, depending on a city permit.

âÄúWhen you open a new restaurant, sometimes things donâÄôt go as quickly as you want,âÄù David Hathaway, managing partner of the store, said of the uncertain opening date.

Ben Johnson, a junior at the University, said he grabbed a slice at the Dinkytown restaurant up to three times a week when he was a resident in Sanford Hall, a couple blocks from the pizza joint. The late hours coupled with the variety of flavors should give the restaurant an advantage in Uptown, he said. The Dinkytown location first opened in 2006.

The new location will be a little smaller than the Dinkytown restaurant, with about 20 seats, Hathaway said. Prices will also be 25 cents higher, to $3.50 a slice.

The new restaurant will sit by the corner of Lake Street West and Holmes Avenue South.

Hathaway said he had scoured Uptown for a building with a lot of foot traffic and finally found the answer in the Lake Street location. A lot of bars are close by, and apartments make the resident population dense, which let him cut down on advertising MesaâÄôs presence. More apartments also mean more chance for delivery, he said.

âÄúItâÄôs certainly unique to the community âÄî something a little bit different in conjunction with the other well-established restaurants in the community,âÄù said Maude Lovelle, executive director of the Uptown Association.

An Uptown location had been a consideration since 2009, Hathaway said. He put in a bid for a location that year, but the deal dissolved when the landlord became nervous that upstairs apartment tenants could be disturbed by a restaurant downstairs, he said.

Hathaway will also hold a public hearing with the City CouncilâÄôs Regulatory, Energy and Environment committee on Thursday for an extended hours license. According to a license inspectorâÄôs report submitted to the committee, notices of the hearing went to 89 residents and property owners within 300 feet of the new location.

Hathaway said that while staying open past bar close would increase business, he worries that community reception will be lukewarm.

âÄúItâÄôs a case of bad timing,âÄù Hathaway said. âÄúResidents have been disturbed by loud partiers after bar-close lately.âÄù

But Lovelle said that if businesses simply follow city ordinances, MesaâÄôs chances of getting the license are good.

âÄúIâÄôm sure that if theyâÄôre granted that [hours] extension, they will be a good neighbor,âÄù Lovelle said.

For now, the new location will stay open until 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 1 a.m. Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

It will be closed on Sundays, unlike the Dinkytown locations.

Several pizza restaurants are located near the new Mesa location. DulonoâÄôs Pizza is one of about nine other restaurants within six blocks, said Nick Loescher, day manager at DulonoâÄôs.

âÄúHeâÄôs welcome to come here,âÄù Loescher said. âÄúThereâÄôs a lot of competitors close by, and we all seem to get along.âÄù

Loescher said that the many events at his restaurant âÄî including a weekly bluegrass band and a summer motorcycle rally âÄî negate any chance of actual competition between the two restaurants.

âÄúI donâÄôt think itâÄôs going to have much of an impact,âÄù Loescher said. âÄúWeâÄôve been here since 1965.âÄù

But die-hard fans of Mesa are sure of the restaurantâÄôs uniqueness. Justin Von Rueden, a diner at the Dinkytown location, said the restaurant was a must-stop location in the neighborhood.

âÄúI just had a slice of gyro pizza âÄî where else could you find that?âÄù he said. âÄúEvery time IâÄôm in the area I stop here.âÄù