About Us

We opened our doors in May of 2013 and realized a dream.

Come share in our story.

Our story

How It All Began

I grew up in Cabool and West Plains, Missouri. The story of Ozark Pizza has many players, and it began in the Ozarks with my parents. They were entrepreneurs and launched a racquetball club on Kentucky Avenue in West Plains in the 1980s.  I was always aware that someday I could start my own business if I dared. 

After high school, I moved to Florida, where I met my future wife, Michele, a native Floridian. Like many of my family members, Michele was a genuine self-starter with an entrepreneurial spirit. After twenty years in Tampa, we came back to my hometown with an itch to something interesting. In Michelle’s former career, she handled unique challenges in the operating room, so I had a feeling she might be up for the challenge of launching our own business. In 2012, we had that chance. 

In the East Towne Village Shopping Center, we baked bread in the early morning hours at the community-owned kitchen. Soon, we were providing bread for five local restaurants, so we enlisted the help of our then teenage son, Anthony. Before we knew it, we had become a genuine, though small, bakery.

One afternoon while I baked bread, I learned that Ozark Pizza Company (OPC) planned to close its doors the following Monday. Owner Leslie Collins and her amazing staff provided delicious pizza to locals, and Michelle and I hated to see that go away. After our heaftfelt talk with Leslie, we worked out some details, and Leslie handed over the keys to OPC.

That first year was tough as we learned how to make the best and freshest pizza and engage clientele while also marketing the business. We would have been sunk without the assistance of Leslie and Colin Collins.

In May of 2013, we made OPC our own, and branded ourselves as Ozark Pizza and Bread Company (with a nod to my baking experience and history). We opened up at 1382 Bill Virdon Boulevard in East Towne Village as many of our die-hard customers will recall (currently the site of Wages Brewery).

Michelle, Anthony, and I really wanted to be in downtown West Plains, and so ten months later, in March of 2014, we moved to our current location at 111 Washington Avenue.

At Ozark Pizza and Bread, we like crafting food that is unique, special, and genuine. We use personal recipes. We try new things. We buy local products and shop at farmers’ markets. We get amazing in-season produce from local farms, such as Mary Badiny’s.

From time to time, our gardeners and farmers walk through the front door with the homegrown tomatoes and basil, and the scent wafts through the restaurant, reminding us of this local connection.

We believe in a special, homegrown, home-cared-for pizza, calzone, and salad. From the dough to the veggies to the beef, we want to provide a unique, healthy, natural local choice for food in our community.

 

Jason McLaughlin