Hot from the Oven: Baylor Alumnus Opens Pizza Shack

By Christina Krenek
Photos by Julie Copenhaver and Christina Krenek

Lights were hung around the patio, bar stools were wiped down, ovens were turned on, and on February 1, Baylor alumnus Ted Browning ’01 opened his first restaurant, Shorty's Pizza Shack.

Located just blocks away from the Baylor campus at 12th Street and Bagby, the restaurant, with it's fresh pizza, laid-back atmosphere, and budget-friendly prices, is the perfect college hangout.

"I've always had the idea of having a college pizza joint, and it's been something Waco has been missing," Browning said.

Browning graduated from the Hankamer School of Business, and like fellow classmates, he landed a respectable desk job after graduation. But within a month, Browning knew the desk job wasn't right for him. So he packed his bags, bought a plane ticket, and moved to Hawaii. He enjoyed four and a half years of island living before rekindling his love for business after frequenting Dollies Pub and Café in Maui. Browning headed back to the mainland with fresh ideas, island exuberance, and the determination to open his own pizzeria.

Once back in Waco, Browning quickly began building his business, starting with the perfect location. He remembered his old stomping grounds, Wing Zone, before its closing, had been located only a few blocks away from campus. "I've always wanted this spot," Browning said of the 12th Street and Bagby location.

Browning soon transformed the location into an oasis of his own. With the help of his friend, he put up wood panels, and painted and textured the walls. The décor is mainly items Browning has collected over the years. He has always collected baseball caps, so the ceiling is home to his famous hat collection. Customers also bring in their hats to add to the ceiling.

"The location is great," said Baylor junior Maria Gannon, who lives just blocks away. "As I drive by, I'm always temped to just stop in and grab a slice to go," she said.

While the décor might be a bit Hawaiian, the food is much more East Coast. The pizza dough and marinara sauce recipes come from kitchen manager Donnie Colaku's New Jersey heritage. And the daily specials—like Italian sausage and jalapenos, Canadian bacon with black olives and mushrooms, or the margarita on wheat—are luring in students and locals.

To attract the college crowd, Browning has been using Facebook. He logs on every day around 9:50 a.m. to post the daily "On the Slice Board" pizza specials. He said if customers want something special, they can just post it on Facebook before 10 a.m. "If we can make it, we'll do it," Browning said. So far, Shorty's Pizza Shack has more than 700 Facebook fans. Browning is happy with business. "So far, we've had a great response," he said.

After his island adventure, Browning says he is glad to be back in Waco and in the business world again—but on his own terms. "I love being my own boss. It doesn't feel like work," he says.
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