Missouri State meets Wheat State Pizza

Feb 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Features, Springfield News

Nathanael Edward Bassett

Contributor

Quick, name your favorite pizza joint. Pizza Hut. Dominoes. Papa John’s. Wheat State Pizza?

Wheat State Pizza is a little known franchise with big plans for Springfield. Owner and Missouri State graduate student Keegan Jones was first introduced to the brand while attending Baker University in Kansas. Keegan is a native of Nixa and when he returned to Springfield to get his master’s in business administration, he brought a bit of Kansas back with him.

He worked for Wheat State Pizza in Baldwin City, Kansas, where he was introduced to the owners and became a big fan of their product. Eventually, Jones decided to transplant the brand to Missouri.

As he says, running a business and going to graduate school “can be stressful,” but he enjoys being in control and setting his own hours. Everything you learn in the MBA program immediately applies, he said, and “It keeps my eyes open”.

The storefront on 3821 S. Campbell is the company’s first location outside of the Sunflower State, and Jones has arranged an area development agreement with the Wheat State corporation. Although the store has only been here since May 2008, the potential is great, he says, and he hopes to put in three or four more stores in town. Right now they’re planning for a possible College Park location downtown, which would make the brand even more accessible to Missouri State students.

But on to the pizza.

What makes it different?

“We have seven different sauces, four different crust options, white or wheat, hand tossed or thin crust, three different cheeses and thirty different toppings”, Jones explained while slicing fresh vegetables. With that many options, anyone can find something they love. The dough is made fresh at the store; they grate their own cheese (mozzarella, provolone and cheddar), and the back room is a professional kitchen. They’re more than willing to make anything, from a Farmer pizza, loaded with bacon, sausage and beef, to a Veggie Dream pizza, with heaping loads of fresh vegetables. “Our product speaks for itself”, Jones said. Once people get a taste, he said, it will sell itself over and over.

Although they are fighting in competition with more recognizable names like Pizza Hut and Dominoes, their local recognition is building with a new commercial and a growing customer base. Wheat State Pizza’s superior product is their biggest weapon, according to Jones. Even with the slumping economy and restaurant sales down across the board in Springfield, Jones shrugs it off.

“We’re doing fine,” he said, excitedly discussing plans to attract new customers and open new locations.

For the discerning pizza consumer, Wheat State Pizza offers a great alternative to the big pizza franchises. Open from 11 to 11, with the last delivery and carryout at 10:30, you can order online and support an innovative graduate student who’s brought a great business to Springfield and the MSU students who work for him. Jones encourages students to come in and give his Wheat State Pizza a try. With all the options available, they are bound to find that perfect pizza.

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