This is the fourth in a regular feature introducing you to the many small business owners along Jackson, why they love being part of the neighborhood, and what they hope to see in the future in our district. We know doing business on Jackson takes dedication, courage, and some luck.
Kedra Olsen, Owner
Here’s the menu!
2901 S Jackson St
All-Purpose Pizza is the type of business you want in any neighborhood: comfortable, casual and with good food. It’s easy to stop in by yourself or a crowd for beer or a longer night of great pizza. But it’s also the type of business you’d expect to be part of a thriving business district, with longer hours and a bit busier, instead of an outlier, feeling on the far edge of nothing that makes Jackson north of MLK a bit of no-man’s land. Part of a wave of development that stalled, All-Purpose Pizza does what it can on our eastern edge to keep things fresh and the owner is one of the more well-known small business owners in the Central District who is doing everything she can think of to make our neighborhood the thriving center of the city it should be.
How long have you been in business?
I opened All-Purpose Pizza on November 11th, 2005. I lived a block away at 29th ave S. and S Main for six years before starting this venture. It used to be an old auto repair shop and when they built this building in the neighborhood the codes had changed and multi-unit housing required retail space below. It sat empty for almost 2 years and all that time, as a neighbor, I was thinking, “Ooh, I hope someone puts a bar there….or some restaurant….” then I got a wild hair to do it myself after being in the restaurant industry for so long!
Why did you move to Jackson?
So, I didn’t really “move” to Jackson, I was already a resident! The area at the time was really lacking any kind of small Mom & Pop kind of place. Everything that existed at the Promenade was it. There were problems with gangs and people thought I was crazy to open a business during such tumultuous times. But it made sense to me, like I could make a “third space” where neighbors would commune together and appreciate the diversity and culture of the CD as much as I do.
We sure need more of those! So what’s the best thing about doing business on Jackson?
Neighbors who have become patrons, then friends. Everyone is super friendly and SO many people ask “how are things going here?” they really care about and support their community as much as they can. They want to see small business succeed and see their neighborhood thrive. I also like the proximity to everything, like if I run out of bread or need something for a special I can hit the Gai’s bakery or the Red Apple in a heartbeat!
What do you need to change on Jackson to be a more successful business?
I would like to see facelifts on some buildings. There are some places that need paint or patch work; they look run down and unkempt. I think for there to be a draw for people from within the neighborhood and without it, it needs to look and feel cared for. There are sections that feel super friendly, then other parts that I drive right by because it looks dirty or run down. I am pro develping the area to be more of a “destination” for people from outside the CD too. I love what has happened in Columbia City for example. People who live in Columbia City stay there because everything they need is right there. And people like me from the CD go there to get a beer at Columbia City Ale House – their tuna melt is kick ass! -or a great breakfast at Geraldine’s Counter. I want those kinds of locally-owned and operated businesses to line our street, bringing in the kind of foot traffic that will make our neighborhood thrive and grow while maintaining the diversity all of us who live here embrace.
What’s next for All-Purpose Pizza?
Well, changes are afoot for us. I have hired on a chef and old friend from California to guide APP through a menu revamp and what we are calling a “re-launch” of All Purpose Pizza!
We have decided to reach a broader market by changing the dough from sourdough (which was once our niche market), to a really great, non-sour dough —still a West-Coast tossed pizza. We are also planning on paring the menu down to be more accessible, more simple. We plan to locally source a lot of items and really diversify the menu more with more pizzeria/Italian items (stuffed shells? half roasted chicken? house made sausage?). The relaunch will happen in phases, with phase one, our new menu launched by the end of October. Then phase two will be to open up for lunch on weekends, probably in the Spring (if not sooner)
After a full 7 years in business and heading into our 8th, it seems like time to mix things up while maintaining the integrity of what APP is all about truly being that third space for our community
Thanks Kedra for the taking the time to chat with us! We know it’s a full-load running a small business.
LOOK: A SPECIAL! ..and a chance to meet your neighbors over a pie!
You need an excuse to eat the best pizza in the Central District? It’s National CHEESE PIZZA DAY! No, seriously, google that. Tomorrow night, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5! $12 large cheese pizza from 4-9pm (dine-in/take out only so come meet your neighbors, eh?), $2.50 cheese slices and half-price pitchers of PBR or Manny’s for every large pizza you order! We’ll be there with our pop-up cafe soaking up the sun and wishing all the kiddies a safe, fun first day of school. Come join us!