Palo Mesa Pizza to open restaurant in SLO

kleslie@thetribunenews.com and slinn@thetribunenews.comApril 1, 2014 

Palo Mesa Pizza at the corner of Highway 1 and Halcyon Road in Arroyo Grande.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Palo Mesa Pizza owners Michael and Kelly Stevens of Arroyo Grande are hoping to take a slice out of San Luis Obispo with their new location, set to open at the end of the month.

The couple, who own two Palo Mesa Pizza locations and Tanner Jacks — all in Arroyo Grande — are expanding their pizza business to 3536 S. Higuera St., Suite 206, according to Kelly Stevens. The suite formerly housed the Neon Carrot restaurant, which closed in 2012, and the short-lived SLO Breeze Café, which closed the following year.

Stevens said because business was doing well — profits and annual revenues increased in the past year, she said — they decided to open a new restaurant in San Luis Obispo.

“We get a lot of people coming in (to the Arroyo Grande locations) from San Luis Obispo, so we are very excited to be opening one closer to them,” she said.

Stevens declined to disclose how much the couple invested in the new business, but said they plan to start with “just the basics, and then we’ll let the business pay for any future improvements as we earn the money to.”

Even with “just the basics,” most regular customers will feel at home in the new 1,400-square-foot space, Stevens said, because the restaurant will be set up similarly to the other two locations.

The restaurant will continue to serve their homemade pizzas, which have earned several national awards, she said.

Last year, Michael Stevens, who cooks all of the pizzas, won best traditional pizza in the Southwest division at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.

He returned to the same competition this year to take a regional third-place trophy in the traditional category with his sausage-and-jalapeño pizza. Palo Mesa Pizza manager Jason Downing and his assistant, manager John Lisek, won third place in the regional non-traditional category for their s’more-inspired creation featuring chocolate, toasted marshmallows and graham crackers.

Stevens will also compete as part of the U.S. Pizza Team in the World Pizza Championships, held April 7-9 in Parma, Italy.

While Michael Stevens is overseas, Kelly Stevens said she will remain here to set up the new restaurant. They plan to open sometime after Easter. She is in the process of hiring several new employees for the site, though some of the workers at the existing restaurants will move to the new one as well. In total, she expects to have about 10 employees at each of the three locations.

Stevens also said she plans to create closer ties to the San Luis Obispo community through fundraisers and outreach events.

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