No end in site for popular area deli

new northend.tif

Italian deli. Ownership might have changed hands, but the North End Deli still has all of its popular menu items. New owner Pete Mesh took over the deli a little over a year ago and is still working on making it his own, while keeping the memories of the Lasala’s alive. Joe Jarosz

By DALE CASTLE
Northeast News
April, 23, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – I sat in my car on a crisp March morning at 910 E. Fifth St., in an area most of us call Little Italy or the Northend.

The three story brick building that occupies that address is still in pretty good shape when you consider it has been through a 107 years of our hot, humid summers and harsh winters. Just as the early morning sun crept over the nearby roof tops and began to warm the east side of the old structure, the man I was waiting for drove up. Pete Mesh shook my hand and said welcome to the North End Deli as we walked in the front door.

Pete has lived in the Northend for all but one of his twenty nine years. He has many fond memories of growing up in the area during a time when Facebook was nonexistent.

“We played basketball on a goal in my driveway.” Pete said. “It was fun riding our bikes down alleys and through yards. We rode all over Columbus Park and the City Market. On exceptionally hot days, the fire department turned on [fire] hydrants so the kids could play in the cool water. It was free, so we spent all day outside until the street light came on, which is when we had to be home.”

Pete spent a great deal of time in this very building as a kid. It was also a deli back then, but since 1921, it was known as Lasala’s.

“My best friend was Joe Ben Lasala,” Pete remembers. “His father and grandfather owned the deli. We were in the store just about every day hanging out and getting something to eat.”

He was sitting in the deli one day when Joe’s father, Albert, asked him if he would like help out by running the register for a while since they were short on help that day. That went well and they started using him from time to time for other jobs such as wrapping bread and running the deli bar. He helped make po’ boy, rich boy supreme sandwiches. Slowly but surely, he learned the ins and outs of the business.

I asked Pete if he ever dreamed about owning the deli back then. No, not in a million years was his quick reply. But a person certainly changes as you get older and Pete was no exception.

He had just sold his car-hauling business in 2012 and knew that Lasala’s was on a down swing. He asked some of the customers what they thought was the problem. Most of them said that in 90 years, the Lasala family hadn’t made any changes. They opened at 9 a.m. and closed at 3 p.m. Their customer base was slowly declining.

“The deli had been very successful for year and years,” Pete said. ” I don’t think they wanted to take a chance and change traditions and I can’t blame them. I was looking for a new business and had nothing to lose, so I asked them if they would consider selling it me.”

They did and Pete took ownership of the deli about 16 months ago. He knew that the projects had cleared out and the neighborhood was definitely attracting small businesses and young professionals. He would have to update the deli to be successful.

He fixed the lighting, painted the walls, put in new heating and cooling and created more room by rearranging counter space. A beautiful oak bar with glass blocks and lights in Italian colors has replaced the old counter. Patrons have been able to watch the Super Bowl, March Madness and other sporting events because of the addition of three big screen televisions.

The deli makes its own Italian steaks, tenderloins and roast beef. Everything is grilled on a flat top grill or dropped in a fryer. The meat is tenderized upon arrival. Fresh Roma bakery bread is delivered everyday. The rich boy, po’ boy supreme sandwiches are iconic. They’ve been there forever. Pete didn’t change them at all. He uses the same bread, same meat and cheese.

A few new items have been added to the menu, including a reuben sandwich, hot Italian beef sandwiches and the Fifth Street club sandwich.

“Joe and Albert Lasala worked with me the first month to get me off on the right foot,” Pete said. “Gabrielle Lamore, who worked at Lasala’s for about 10 years, has been with me since day one. She’s my right hand woman. I don’t know what I’d do with out her.”

In the short time since the deli’s opening, business has nearly doubled. It’s a nice family establishment where you can bring your wife and eat good food, have a glass of wine and hang out for a while.

I asked Pete why he changed the name of such a well known eatery.

“I wanted a fresh start and statistics show that 85 percent of businesses that are failing when people buy them continue to fail when they keep the same name,” was his reply.

I noticed an old photo of a boxer on the wall surrounded by adoring kids. I asked Pete who he was.

“That’s Rocky Graziano,” Pete said. “There use to be a boxing club next door. Rocky stopped by and posed with several of the Northend kids including my father and Frank Deluna. Frank gave me the picture. It was taken about 1954.”

Future plans call for murals to be painted on the front of the building and both sides, a patio on the east side of the building so people can sit outside with about 12 tables with awnings to provide shade. Pete is very thankful for the Italian-Americans and businesses in the area that were so supportive when he started the deli. He has a tremendous amount of respect and love for the neighborhood.

“It would have been very difficult to start it alone,” Pete said. “They were a tremendous help.”

Like the old building, Pete is built on a solid foundation. I think he will be around for a long time just like the Lasala’s were. The North End Deli is open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m on Friday and Saturday with the bar open until 1:30 a.m. and from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sunday. When the patio is installed, the deli will be open later in the evenings for dinner.


Comments are closed.

  • retorts illustrated by bryan stalder

    July 19th, 2017
    by

    Frontier Schools continue expansion in the Northeast

    May 24th, 2017
    by

    By Abby Cambiano Northeast News May 24, 2017 KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Frontier Schools celebrated their 10th anniversary this year […]


    LA paints NEKC

    May 18th, 2017
    by

    By Abigail Cambiano Northeast News May 18, 2017 KANSAS CITY, Missouri – A group of heavily tattooed men were found […]


    MU guest editorial: Local is always better

    May 17th, 2017
    by

    By Miranda Smith Northeast News May 17, 2017 Everything is better when it’s local. Local produce is fresher and creates […]


    Letter to the Editor: Heartland Tree Alliance

    February 8th, 2017
    by

    Northeast News February 8, 2017 We are working hard in the NE, going door to door in residential areas within […]


  • Letter the Editor: We do not approve of last week’s cartoon

    November 23rd, 2016
    by

    Northeast News November 23, 2016 Dear Editor & Publisher: We do appreciate edgy political cartoons that present a point of […]


    Healing House talks community issues, expansion plans

    November 2nd, 2016
    by

    KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Last Thursday evening, residents who live near the 100 block of N. Elmwood gathered in a meeting space provided by…


    KC Renaissance Festival to open this weekend

    August 30th, 2016
    by

    Festival. The 40th annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival will open for the season on Saturday, September 3, from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. in Bonner Springs (633 N.


    Back to School 2016: Memories of Manchester School

    August 3rd, 2016
    by

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri – After spending years as a pillar of blight in the community, the former Manchester School has now officially said goodbye to the Northeast.


    Back to School 2016: Literacy program leads way to better reading

    August 3rd, 2016
    by

    Northeast News KANSAS CITY, Missouri – According to the literacy organization Lead to Read KC, only 49% of students in Kansas City are reading at grade-level by third grade.


  • What’s Happening

    Northeast Newscast Episode 19 – A Defense of KC NoVA w/ KCPD Captain Chris Young

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News July 21, 2017 This week on the Northeast Newscast, managing editor Paul Thompson sits down […]

    KCPD’s Rick Smith named as Chief of Police finalist

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News June 20, 2017 At least one of the two finalists for the Kansas City Police […]

    Northeast-based actress to perform during KC Fringe Festival

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News July 19, 2017 A Northeast resident will take the stage this weekend during the Kansas […]

  • Local Weather