Follow the yellow brick road that runs through the new Shakespeare’s Pizza in downtown Columbia and, amidst the ongoing construction, you’ll see distinctive signs of the old Shakespeare’s emerging.
Customers voiced concern last spring when the iconic pizza restaurant announced it was temporarily relocating so that its original building could be demolished to make way for a multistory, mixed-use property. But Shakespeare’s management promised that the restaurant, which opened in 1973, would return to its home just north of the University of Missouri campus when the new building was completed.
As he guided a visitor through that building this week, Shakespeare’s general manager Kurt Mirtsching said the tradition and interior of the original downtown location will be restored when the restaurant reopens. Shakespeare’s saved the wood, bricks, ceiling, signs, ovens and even some of the walls from the old restaurant.
Don’t believe it? See for yourself by going to Shakespeare’s website and taking a 360-degree virtual tour of the old location.
The opening date for the new venue has not been determined yet, Mirtsching said, but Shakespeare’s hopes to reopen sometime in early or mid August, just in time for MU students to return to campus for the fall semester.
While it maintains the character of the old restaurant, the new version features some improvements. Not only will the new Shakespeare’s have more seating, but its kitchen will be larger than the original. That means the restaurant is adding more employees, who are currently going through training, Mirtsching said.
There also will be a bigger bar and a party room that guests can reserve. On warm days and nights, a garage door in the party room will open to let guests hang out in an alleyway that can be blocked off for special occasions.
The temporary Shakespeare’s, which is located one block west of the original location and has housed the restaurant since last May, will be open until the end of July.