Renovations to turn the former Pizza 51 West building into Fairway’s newest dessert shop, the Fairway Creamery, will begin in February, following Pizza 51 West’s sudden closure.
The new restaurant is being opened by local entrepreneur Christopher Elbow, owner and creator of Glacé and Christopher Elbow Chocolates. The dessert shop will feature gourmet ice cream and doughnuts, and is expected to open this spring after renovations. Pizza 51 owners Jason and Shannon Pryor officially sold the building to Elbow on Dec. 27 and formally closed its doors Jan. 1.
“It was the right offer at the right time in our lives, referring to my wife and I and three children,” Jason Pryor said. “It just opened our eyes up to the possibility of lightening our workload a little bit while our kids get older before they’re gone.”
Fairway Creamery’s menu is expected to be similar to the artisanal ice cream options at Glacé, but more expansive due to the larger building. Elbow is planning to add soft-serve ice cream and dipped cones to the menu, he told the Shawnee Mission Post. He also said he plans to begin selling fresh doughnuts, primarily old-fashioned style and cake, as well as coffee.
Junior Camryn Gossick is sad to see Pizza 51 West leave, despite her excitement to try the new desserts offered at the Creamery. After eating at Pizza 51 West every Thursday night for the past seven summers alongside other Fairway Pool swimmers, she feels she has gotten to know the employees.
“[A dessert shop] doesn’t have much of a sit-down feel […] so I don’t think it will become like Pizza 51 was in terms of like bringing people together to chill and eat pizza,” Gossick said. “Ice cream is a more ‘come and go’ type of shop, so the whole vibe between the employees and the neighborhood is going to be different, since it’s not sit-down.”
Pizza 51 West’s employees were called to a mandatory meeting on New Year’s Day to be informed of the closure.
“It really upset me,” former employee and senior Sophia Scarlett said. “[…] He didn’t give any heads up to anyone […] Like he put out an entire week’s schedule knowing that we’d only be working that Monday, and then after that it would be closed […] The way it was handled makes me more mad than anything. I don’t care about the job itself, I care about the people I’m losing and how I lost it.”
According to Pryor, all full-time employees and all but two part-time employees who had worked at Pizza 51 for over a year were transferred either to the original Pizza 51 location or the Pryors’ other restaurant, the Milwaukee Deli. The majority of the people let go were high school students, according to Pryor. Those who were present at the meeting received a $50 bonus on their paycheck, Scarlett said.