By Liz Hitchock
The cool atmosphere, spacious outdoor seating and friendly wait staff are only a few of the reasons why students stop into Shorty’s Pizza Shack, located in the shopping center at 12th Street and Bagby Avenue.
The owner of Shorty’s, Ted Browning, a 2001 Baylor alumnus, said he is happy to be back in the area. The restaurant opened in January.
“I always liked the location,” Browning said. “I used to live about three blocks down from here.”
After graduating from the Hankamer School of Business, Browning decided to move to Hawaii for about four years, but afterward found himself back in Waco, with a business plan for a restaurant.
“I had other ideas and took the first few steps with another business plan in the downtown area. … I had pretty much most of it laid out,” Browning said. “But when it’s your first place and you haven’t done it before, there are about a hundred problems you don’t even realize.”
One of the many aspects of Shorty’s that make it unique in Waco is its traditional brick-lined pizza oven that makes the pizzas crisper and generally gives them a more flavorful taste.
“We have a real brick-lined oven, gas-fired,” Browning said. “You can really taste a difference. It’s all about the pizza.”
The menu ranges all the way from “The Works” pizza with almost everything they serve tastefully piled onto each slice, to the “Meat Lover’s” and classic pepperoni pies.
However, Shorty’s also caters to the vegetarian tastes as well, serving a veggie pizza and the East Coast favorite, white pizza.
“Our head chef, the guy that came up with all the recipes, is a young guy from New Jersey. He basically came up with the crust himself and uses an old family recipe from out in New Jersey,” said Shorty’s waiter Reece Beall.
Beall said that the most popular pizza is the pepperoni, but the pizza by the slice is popular as well.
“We have different slices every day that we sell, so the most popular changes,” Beall said. “A lot of people tend to like the barbecue chicken.”
The staff of Shorty’s is enthusiastic about business and have had good experiences with the clientele.
“I love working here. It’s a real laid-back atmosphere,” Beall said. “All the people that come in here are pretty chill.”
Assistant manager Chance Vanzandt said that about 90 percent of their customers are students, and they have been trying to tell people about the restaurant
“We just been kind of doing word of mouth,” Vanzandt said. “So far we’ve had really good results. We are going to start advertising on and around campus.”
Browning wants to start marketing to Baylor students in the near future and has already started a Facebook fan page for the restaurant.
Another rarity in Waco is outdoor seating. Shorty’s has more than 700 square feet of outdoor seating. There is the option to sit in the covered, fan-cooled outside seats, or to bask in the sun while you eat your pie.
Outside you can also find games like washers and “redneck golf.” The restaurant also provides free Wi-Fi.
Shorty’s Pizza Shack is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to midnight.