Chow Town

Geo’s Pizzeria in Overland Park specializes in fresh, meaty dishes

When Alan Jeter turned 50, his daughter Haley told him he should skip the midlife crisis and “do something good.”

Sure enough, “he went to culinary school instead of buying a motorcycle,” Haley Jeter says.

Alan Jeter always worked for himself — he owned a shoe repair shop in Olathe before remodeling kitchens, bathrooms and basements — but his dream was to own a restaurant.

A year ago, he made that dream a reality when he opened

Geo’s Pizzeria

in Overland Park.

Haley, a freelance artist and former Hallmark designer, had never worked at a restaurant before. But she joined her dad in his new business venture and has been working side-by-side with him since.

The father-and-daughter team work together all day, almost every day — Haley gets the occasional Saturday off — making fresh pizza, Italian sandwiches and salads.

Eat at Geo’s and you’ll understand why Alan Jeter’s nickname is “the meat man.” The pepperoni is sliced fresh, the chicken and corned beef are roasted in-house, and the sausage is cooked fresh — not frozen into pellets and thawed.

The substantial cracker crust pizzas — a popular style in St. Louis — start with Alan Jeter’s homemade dough. Every pie and slice is cooked to order.

The Carnivore, topped with pepperoni, sausage, hamburger, bacon, Canadian bacon and extra mozzarella, is the best-seller. My personal favorite is the BBQ Chicken, loaded with white meat, bacon, red onion and three cheeses (mozzarella, provolone and provel, also popular on St. Louis pies). Jack Stack barbecue sauce adds the perfect sweet and smoky touch.

When I went to Geo’s a couple weeks ago, Alan Jeter insisted I try his favorite sandwich. I’m so glad he did: His Muffuletta ($6.49) is the best I’ve ever had. The Italian sandwich comes stacked with pepperoni, ham, mortadella, salami and melted mozzarella on a fluffy focaccia bun.

What puts this sandwich over the top is the perfect proportions (the bun isn’t too big) and the salty green olive tapenade, which adds zip to all of that freshly sliced meat.

Geo’s also serves a Meatball Sub ($6.49), a sweet Italian sausage sandwich on a sesame seed hoagie ($5.99) and a Reuben that rivals any you’ll find in the Kansas City area.

Geo’s Reuben starts with his slow-roasted corned beef. The tender, juicy slices are topped with tangy sauerkraut and Russian dressing, then wedged between toasted marble rye bread. Melted Swiss cheese on both slices of rye keeps the juice from the corned beef and sauerkraut from soaking into the bread — so no soggy Reuben here.

The sandwiches, pizza and pasta at Geo’s are served in a comfortable, modestly decorated dining room modeled after a 1950s pizzeria.

Haley, working with a minimal budget, reupholstered the chairs and applied brown paper to the walls. Family movies play on the TVs on weekends, and there are funny cutouts of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis peeking out from the open kitchen.

Alan Jeter is a huge Bruce Willis fan, his daughter says. His goal is to collect 90 Bruce Willis movies — and he’s almost to 60.

Being silly is one way Alan and Haley manage to enjoy the long hours and busy days, which are getting more frequent as word spreads about this family-owned pizzeria.

“At the end of the day,” Haley says, “we say ‘I love you’ no matter what.”