Combining Community With The Combine

The Combine is a new restaurant that just opened at 30th and Troost in Kansas City, Missouri that is owned by Jason and Shannon Pryor and Alan Kneeland.


The grand opening of the new restaurant, The Combine, is located on Troost Avenue Dec. 8. It is a locally owned restaurant, as the Pryor family now own it. photo by Becca Speier

by Caroline Hinkebein, Sports editor

The Combine is a new restaurant that just opened at 30th and Troost in Kansas City, Missouri that is owned by Jason and Shannon Pryor (Shannon Murphy, STA class of ‘93) and Alan Kneeland. Jason and Shannon are also the owners of the popular, local restaurant Pizza 51 and co-owners of The Milwaukee Deli with John Turner.

Jason and Shannon have a long history in the restaurant business. They opened their first business Pizza 51 in 2004, their second location, Pizza 51 West, in 2011 and their third business, The Milwaukee Deli, in 2013. When they decided to close Pizza 51 West in 2018, they started working on The Combine. 

“Once one door closed another one opened,” Jason said. 

Jason found the opportunity of Pizza 51 from a building across the street from a university. Similar to this, through searching for new local opportunities throughout the metro, he found the perfect location for a new restaurant that he says was ripe for revitalization and already under construction. The name “The Combine” grew from there. 

“It’s about combining that unofficial dividing line of Troost,” Jason said. 

The Pryors and Kneeland built The Combine from the ground up. 

“There was nothing but floors and walls when we walked in,” Jason said. 

The Pryors are proud of the designing process because it was done all in house, instead of being outsourced, so it’s extremely personal to them. Shannon’s sister, Lea Murphy is a photographer, and she contributed a mural of downtown Kansas City, Missouri where the left half is tinted blue to represent the Royals World Series Championship of 2015 and the right half blends into red to represent the Chiefs Super Bowl Championship of 2020. 

“As many times as you have seen photos like that none of them blend from one championship into the other making it completely unique and that might just be how art works,” Shannon said. 

The hardest thing about opening The Combine was the decision of whether to open or not during a pandemic. In the end they decided to open and the Pryors are happy with that decision.

 “We had just made such an emotional and financial investment up until that point, that we just felt that it was something we wanted to see through,” Jason said. 

The Combine is taking the pandemic very seriously but with 3700 square feet, Jason believes it’s been made easier to follow the protocols put into place.

 “We feel very blessed to be able to safely distance and operate our business,” Jason said. 

Community is one of the most important things to the Pryors, and with a daughter, Rachel Pryor, who’s a junior at STA, the STA community is important to them as well. They stay super involved with the STA community with their other restaurants, Pizza 51 and The Milwaukee Deli. John Wenzel offered technical support with setting up wifi at The Combine. The Wenzel family has personal ties to the STA community as Keli Wenzel is an alumna (STA class of 94’), and her daughter currently attends STA as well. The Pryors want all the resources they use to be local, just like their restaurants are. 

“Community and family-driven with the resources that we use, keeping it local,” said Jason. 

The Pryors want The Combine to be a place where people in the community can come together. 

“Post COVID, we want to be that place where we can exist together and come up at The Combine,” Jason said. “We want to be that neighborhood spot for gatherings.” 

The Combine has embraced the surrounding neighborhoods in order to be that neighborhood spot that everyone can come together at. 

“The important thing is just getting to know your neighbor and doing the best you can for them to get to know you,” Jason said. 

Community is the biggest part of what makes The Combine so special. 

“It’s an investment in an area that has been underserved for a very long time,” Jason said. 

Shannon’s favorite thing about the new restaurant is the enhanced social media involvement, posting more on all platforms and staying engaged with the community. She is excited about this new venture and their co-owner Kneeland’s energy about it. Shannon says that with these extra efforts she loves seeing how well it’s being done. 

Unlike their other restaurants, the Combine has the ability to split off parts of the area for private groups and are even the exclusive caters for a 200 plus person event space on the roof. Although Jason knows that with winter and COVID-19 it might not start off as fast as they wanted, he is hopeful for the future. 

“I think once everybody gets a glimpse of what we have to offer, I think we’ll have a pretty good product and service here at The Combine,” Jason said. 

The main item on The Combine’s menu is pizza. Pizza, their favorite food and their core roots, at the end of the day are what inspires the Pryors most. 

“It’s just the foundation of who we are,” Jason said.