In late January, when then-owner Henry Dickinson finally revealed that the century-old Dickinson Plaza had been sold to a developer, the storefront's tenants were suddenly thrown into limbo. This past weekend, Fat Jack's was still serving at 2015 West 32nd Avenue, but it's slated to leave this week and move to new digs around the corner on Tejon Street. Laughing Latte closed on May 1; Mary Jane's Pizza followed at the end of the month. A sign in the window of the now-empty storefront promised that the late-night pizza joint would soon reopen at 3090 Downing Street.
And although the mid-June estimate on that sign proved overly optimistic, partners Greg Kennedy and David Llanos, whose brother founded the original store in Tulsa in 2002, hope to be back in business this month — maybe by the seventh anniversary of the Mary Jane's in LoHi, which opened on July 29, 2009.
Over the years, the spot gained loyal regulars with its unusual hours — Mary Jane's opened at 11 p.m. and served until 4:20 — and although the partners heard rumors that the connected buildings might be sold, Dickinson denied them, Kennedy remembers...until the day that Dickinson finally told Kennedy that as of midnight, he would no longer be the owner of the complex — and that Mary Jane's, which had 35 days left on its lease, was on its own.
"We had very little money and zero options," says Kennedy.
"You can't walk a tighter rope," adds Llanos.
And then they heard from the owners of 3090 Downing Street, who had just the spot for Mary Jane's Pizza. "It was a lifesaver," says Kennedy. "They gave us the breathing space we needed."
The first restaurant tenant of the massive structure at 3090 Downing was the legendary Tosh's Hacienda; since then, many other eateries and clubs (including a swingers' group) have tried to make a go of the building. But now the Wrangler bar is taking over the address, moving there from its longtime home at 1700 Logan Street. Mary Jane's will be tucked into the corner that most recently held the Downing Street Grill.
A late-night pizza joint next to the big Wrangler bar seems like an ideal match. Kennedy worked at Tracks and lived nearby for years; the fit with the community "feels good," he says.
The owners didn't ask for money down, and when they had to close up Mary Jane's in LoHi, Kennedy and Llanos could move equipment over to Downing Street while a few renovations were made. The fan is being replaced, for example, and after that the partners should be ready to go through the checklist that could have the new Mary Jane's open this month. The Wrangler, which had been targeting an August 1 opening, should follow soon after.
As the partners adjust to the new location, they plan to "mix it up a little," Kennedy says. The lobby area will be larger, a good place to hang out (and listen to a DJ on Thursday), and they'll be able to put out twice as many pizzas. They may extend the hours, too, opening earlier on weekends. But the late-night hours will remain key.
While Mary Jane's has been closed, they've continued to get calls from regulars wondering when they will reopen. "They depend on us being there at 3:45. They're on the swing shift," Kennedy says.
"Our customers are so steadfast," he continues. "It was so crushing when everything came down. The outpouring from customers kept us going."
Right into 3090 Downing Street.
Watch for updates on maryjanes.com.