When French chef Philippe Lechevin recently put a Papa Keno’s Pizzeria in the Crossroads, he wanted to get the word out quickly.
One way was to advertise on a billboard on bustling Baltimore, just a block away from his restaurant at 1815 Wyandotte St. The billboard is so strategically situated that Lechevin added a black arrow pointing directly at Papa Keno’s east entrance with its two garage doors opening to a patio.
“Big slices this way,” the sign says, next to a large Papa Keno’s Pizzeria logo and an image of a “big as your face” pizza slice.
But the billboard also happens to be right next to Papa Keno’s competitor, Pizzabella, at 1810 Baltimore Ave. Pizzabella’s owner said she can’t help but take it personally.
“Many restaurants have advertised on the billboard and we are glad to support all of our neighbors. We just don’t know why we were singled out this time,” said Shari Boles. “This one was so aggressive, having an arrow pointing to their business. My employees are upset. They said ‘What can we do?’ But it isn’t our billboard. We can’t do anything.”
Lechevin, who also is a partner in the Papa Keno’s Pizzeria in downtown Overland Park, said people love pizza and he’s just offering another choice — fast casual versus the more upscale Pizzabella.
Indeed. Pizzabella and The Art of Pizza have peacefully co-existed across the street from each other for a decade, and other Crossroads restaurants, such as Ruins Pub, also serve pizza.
East Crossroads pizza pioneer Grinders opened in 2004 and has since seen pizza chain Papa John’s Pizza open just a couple of blocks away, as well as the new Homeslice Pizza & Pints at 1501 Grand Blvd.
Jeff “Stretch” Rumaner, owner of Grinders, said it’s great that so many pizza places are opening in the Crossroads.
“And if some of them want to get real competitive, I love guerrilla advertising,” he said. “I’ll tell you what, if I was Pizzabella and Papa Keno’s slapped one on the side of my building I’d have a big U-Haul right out in front of their place — ‘Pizzabella, one block over.’ This is the creative Crossroads. If you can’t handle it, get out of the kitchen.”