Archive for Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Partners find a slice of success

March 29, 2000

During their many years at Kmart Distribution Center in Lawrence, Doc and Brutie often dreamed about buying a grocery store.

Instead, the two men decided the restaurant business might better suit their outgoing personalities. After all, they both loved cooking.

So when a DeSoto pizza restaurant went out of business about five years ago, the men jumped at the chance to take it over. And they haven't looked back once. In fact, they did so well in DeSoto that they opened a second Doc and Bruties about four years ago in Basehor.

Denny Houghman better known as Doc and George Mills Brutie enjoy the sit-down family atmosphere their restaurants offer.

"He's a carefree go-getter," Mills said. "I like to wait on some things, step back and think things through thoroughly."

A perfect match.

But these days, Houghman runs the DeSoto restaurant, and Mills is overseeing operations in Basehor. The two miss working together.

"Doc grew up in DeSoto, so it made more sense," Mills said. "But, we terribly miss working with each other."

Mills took control of the newer restaurant because it was closer to his home in Tonganoxie than DeSoto, and Houghman lives in DeSoto.

The DeSoto restaurant at 33080-B W. 83rd Street started out simply, with carryout and delivered pizza. It was big enough to seat just a few people. After an expansion, the restaurant now has plenty of dine-in space.

Barbecue was added to the menu about two

years ago. And now, the restaurant is just as well-known for its barbecue as for its pizza.

"It gave us a little more versatility," Houghman said. "Right now the business is half and half between the two. But the barbecue is on the rise."

After offering barbecue for about a month, a group of barbecue tasters appeared at Houghman's restaurant. The group rated the barbecue No. 2, equal to Kansas City's famous Arthur Bryant's Barbeque in quality but for a lower price.

The decision to expand to Basehor at 15510 State Avenue apparently was a solid one. Although that restaurant's mainstay is pizza, its business runs neck and neck with the DeSoto restaurant.

Initially, the restaurant was rather small, but an expansion a couple of years ago boosted sales. The business partners say they don't expect to add barbecue any time soon. The restaurant is doing well, and there isn't enough space now for expansion.

"It does enough pizza business without expanding," Houghman said.

Customers travel from Topeka, Kansas City and other towns to eat the pizza, which is cooked on a stone-bottom oven. That helps make the pizza a lot less greasy.

Although restaurant hours are long, the two men say they made the right decision five years ago.

"I love being in charge and dealing with the public," Mills said.

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