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I’m a down to earth person when it comes to restaurant food. If the meals and service are consistently good, I’ll be back.
That’s why The Combine has been my go-to lately, whether it’s a solo meal, a first date, or a business lunch. My regular order is Custom Slice, Buffalo Wings, and an Old Fashioned. It’s simple and it’s excellent.
I don’t eat pork, but the Custom Slice, with five pizza toppings of your choice, offers plenty of other options. I usually go for chicken, cream cheese, onions, mushrooms, and roasted garlic.
The huge 14-inch slice is a fantastic deal at $6.25. Much bigger than both of my hands, the slice alone is more than a meal. However, on those evenings after a long day at work and I’m hungry, I order four pieces of their buffalo wings for $5.
JM Banks’ regular order at The Combine: house-made buffalo wings, an old-fashioned cocktail, and a custom slice with chicken, cream cheese, mushrooms, onions, and roasted garlic.
The pizza is the perfect balance of hot, cheesy and crunchy. The crust is never too doughy or burnt, and the hot wings have a nice zest and spice that won’t make you reach for an extra glass of water. I washed it all down with one of KC’s best old fashioned cocktails ($10).
The brick Combine building, at 2999 Troost Ave., was once a Wonder Bread factory and is large and spacious, with a bar and semi-private event space. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by the scents of delicious food and lively customer talk as sports play on the television.
Several close friends had recommended this Black owned restaurant on Troost. However, having lived in the area all my life and not being able to even name what had been in the building previously, I was pleasantly surprised at the calm and welcoming atmosphere that owner Alan Kneeland had quickly cultivated.
“We wanted to become that local pizza hub for the community where you can watch the game and grab a beer,” says Alan Kneeland, owner of The Combine, seen here preparing one of his restaurant’s signature pizzas.
Opened in 2020 amid COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests, Kneeland knew it had its work cut out for it. He wanted to create a menu with foods everyone loves and appeal to people who have lived in the area for generations, as well as new residents moving into newly gentrified blocks and need somewhere to eat.
In addition to pizzas and wings, The Combine also serves a large selection of hot and cold sandwiches, calzones, soups, and salads.
The brick Combine building at the corner of 29th Street and Troost Avenue was once a Wonder Bread factory and is large and spacious.
While Kneeland was working in the former Fairway location of Pizza 51 and planning to strike out on his own, the restaurant owner offered to partner with him on a new restaurant. They no longer work together, but the Pizza 51 influence can be seen in The Combine’s menu.
“We wanted to become that local pizza hub for the community where you can watch the game and grab a beer,” says Kneeland, a 32-year-old Kansas City native. “The community has embraced this place. We’ve opened up during a really tough time to be able to do that and show people that we’re here to stay.
The Combine’s calm and welcoming atmosphere attracts a variety of patrons. The place is packed during Chiefs games.
His 16 years in the restaurant business went from ground floor as a dishwasher to management. He has implemented every lesson learned to make The Combine a local institution.
Every Sunday the Chiefs play, The Combine is packed with red-clad fans from all backgrounds.
“I want to bring together a diverse client base,” says Kneeland. “Five years ago, this area was a food desert. There was literally nothing here about eating. So for us to offer a culinary experience with a menu that brings together different types.”