I grew up on South Lanes Pizza and loved it and really didn’t want to see it go…It’s a homemade pizza, make our dough the night before, cut all of our cheese…local supplier of custom sausage just for us…

Matt Thornton

Owner/Operator, South Lanes Pizza

We talked with Matt Thornton and Nancy Flottmeyer of South Lanes Pizza.  They talk about how South Lanes got its start and the decision to bring back a favorite local pizza place after the original location closed.  Plus, learn how to get your hands on what might have been your favorite childhood pizza.

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Transcript

Amy Gabay 00:00
This podcast is brought to you by People’s Food Co Op, a community owned grocery store in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota that promotes local farmers and producers through an emphasis on fresh, healthy, sustainable food. Anyone can shop, everyone is welcome. For more information, visit them online at PFC.coop. This podcast is also brought to you by Trempealeau County Tourism. Whether your idea of fun is bicycling, hiking or canoeing, afterwards head into the heart of one of their welcoming communities to experience historic architecture, independent shops and locally owned dining establishments. Visit Trempealeau County Tourism online. The Great River Shakespeare Festival is running now through July 31st. Featuring Twelfth Night and the African Company presents Richard the Third and more at Minnesota’s premier Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minnesota. Buy tickets online at grsf.org. Great river, great drama. We talk with Matt Thornton and Nancy Flottmeyer of South Lanes Pizza. They talk about how South Lanes got its start and the decision to bring back a favorite local pizza place after the original location closed. Plus, learn how to get your hands on what might have been your favorite childhood pizza. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website lacrosselocal.com. I’m Amy.

Brent Hanifl 01:25
I’m Brent.

Amy Gabay 01:26
And this is La Crosse Local.

Nancy Flottmeyer 01:28
Well I’m Nancy Flottmeyer. I was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I know Matt. And we talked about the possibility of him buying South Lanes. And started talking a little bit further and ended up doing the design on it and worked with him on the whole build out and got to know the history and tradition of South Lanes. It seemed like a fun adventure. And it was exciting to continue the tradition in La Crosse. So but I helped more on that the build out side, the design side and hiring and looked around all the logistics of getting it going.

Matt Thornton 02:03
My name is Matt Thornton, I was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin. And what led me to South Lanes Pizza was I think everybody that grew up on the south side and all of La Crosse or maybe the Coulee Region was pretty sad when we found out that it was closing down and really wasn’t going to come back. So it kind of sparked my interest as far as looking into continuing that tradition of what we think is the best pizza in town. And therefore, the hardest part was trying to find a location that we could keep it and got kind of creative with the village over there. And definitely with all Nancy’s help and design, we’re able to put up a new pizza restaurant with a very long history, tradition, and product. So I think that’s what led me to it is that I grew up on self made pizza, and we loved it and really didn’t want to see it go away. And was also from a business into a way for me to diversify, as another company that I own is a Buckley’s Baseball Tours. And obviously, with the pandemic and the work stoppage in the last couple of years. That’s been a little tough on this industry. So this was a great break from there. And we still do the baseball tours. And now we also do pizza. So who doesn’t love baseball and pizza? Right?

Brent Hanifl 03:22
So you know, I’ve always known about your pizza, and it says, you know, just kind of digging into you a little bit more since 1976. Always known that you guys had the great pizza, the great food, but like how did it start? Was it always making pizzas? Or was it a certain person? Or how did it kick off in the very beginning?

Matt Thornton 03:40
I think it was more an add on just to the bowling there. You know, the bowling was the stable way back when. And obviously they added on the kitchen to it to support whoever was bowling, not so much a restaurant, but just to provide food for all the bowlers during the leagues, and then on the weekends for all the families and kids and whatnot. So it was kind of an add on to the established bowling thats been there. And that whole building what was there since like, in the 1930s, it was a clubhouse for public golf course, because that was way out of town way back when. And then the bowling alley to our knowledge, right around in the early 1950s it became the bowling alley. And then obviously the food, more serious pizza was like in the mid 70s there. And to our knowledge, you know, it’s more of just add on to all the bowling in the bar that was there.

Nancy Flottmeyer 04:38
I think that you’re right on the money. As far as you know, it’s interesting. We have different people come in all the time with their history and tradition of South Lanes. And they always mentioned a different owner. They always mentioned different managers. So there’s there’s a history man, I don’t even know of all the people who’ve been there and continued the tradition. But yeah, I think you’re right, Matt.

Brent Hanifl 04:58
It’s interesting to hear about that community just kind of passing it from hand to hand, and you know, keeping that good quality of it up and people still digging it. So how does your pizza stand apart? You know, was there changes when you moved from one location to the next? Or did you take the recipes or how’s it stand apart from the other places in town?

Nancy Flottmeyer 05:14
The most important things for us was maintaining the integrity of the way the pizza tasted. So part of the deal was back, we got all the equipment, the recipe, and everything. And the the ovens are seasoned, and they’ve been seasoned for years. And that was really, really important that we use the same equipment and everything. We worked very hard with the former owners on the recipe. So everything was the same, I would say we’re known for our signature crispy, thin kind of cracker thin crust, we have housemade sauce, and then we have locally made custom sausage as well. And those are what makes us incredibly unique.

Matt Thornton 05:51
Yeah, and I just add on to it. I mean, it’s a homemade pizza. I mean, we make our dough the night before. We cut all of our cheese. And like Nancy said, we have a local supplier that makes custom sausage just for us. I mean, we provide the special spices for the sausage, we make our own sauce with a special recipe for the sauce. And we just added all together. And one of the greatest compliments that we received from the beginning and we still receive is that, hey, this pizza tastes just like the old South Lanes. And it’s wonderful. That just brings a smile to everybody in the kitchen, to the people at the counter everybody when we can bring that back. And one thing is to be in business. But it’s also another thing when people are just happy that you’re back in business. And they come in and they eat and they just smile. And I remember the first week we were doing this, it was crazy. But I was out doing deliveries and a couple of people like, hey, can I give you a hug? I’m so happy that you get back in business. And I’m like, You know what? Yeah, I’ll take a hug. I mean, it’s been crazy. But you know, it’s things like that, that, you know, to be on, you know, making money or anything like that. But you can just see, it’s like we deliver a box of happiness to these people again, that’s pretty cool.

Brent Hanifl 07:12
This pizzas like an institution for the area. I’m sure people like you said, you’re getting a good reception from coming back. For people who haven’t been there yet. How do people you know, order, pickup hours, how does that all work?

Nancy Flottmeyer 07:23
Most of the business is takeout right now. So people call in, we have not turned on online ordering yet. We will in the future. But right now it’s personal calls where people come in. We have dine in so we have a capacity for over 60 people that can eat in the restaurant, and then take out. And then delivery obviously as well.

Matt Thornton 07:41
Our dining people are surprised by it. As far as the room that we have, we do have a bar there as well. We’ve got four large screen TVs for mostly sporting events that are on. As far as delivery goes, we deliver with our own people. So we try and get to our customers as fast as possible and as hot as possible. So all of our delivery people work for us. And then a lot of people stop in and take out too. So in our hours every day, we’re open at 11 o’clock, except for on Sunday we start at noon. And Monday to Frida we do offer slices for the students and the working force from eleven to two o’clock. We always offer slices Monday through Friday. And that’s been a big hit there. And we’re open from Sunday, noon to eight, Monday, eleven to eight. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, eleven to nine and then Friday and Saturday we’re open till 10pm. So seven days a week.

Brent Hanifl 08:45
It’s really good to hear about slices too. So for those people who just want to, you know, give it a shot or stop it or try it. So what’s next for you guys? Is there anything that’s coming down the road that’s exciting? Seems like there’s a breath of fresh air and La Crosse people are getting back out, it’s summer. Is there anything coming down the road that you’re excited for?

Nancy Flottmeyer 09:01
We are going to be introducing outside dining shortly. We’ll be expanding our bar and expanding the menu a little bit kind of dabbling in salads and maybe sandwiches. We are trying to stick to the core though pizza and wings are really our bread and butter and that’s what people love the most but we want to expand a little bit.

Matt Thornton 09:21
And we just launched desserts as well. We got cheesecake from Juniors in New York. And then we got four flavors of the world famous Pearl Ice Cream out of La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Brent Hanifl 09:34
Checking out your website here, is that the main avenue for people to go?

Nancy Flottmeyer 09:37
Yep. I mean a lot of people come in daily to grab takeout menus as well but the full menu is online.

Matt Thornton 09:43
We have a great following on our Facebook too. And we’ll put a lot of pictures out there. We try and have fun with it but we’ll put pictures on our Facebook itself, South Lanes Bowling and Pizza. We still get calls and see if we got lanes open for bowling but unfortunately we do not. But the Facebook South Lanes Bowling and Pizza, we’ll put communication up there, pictures. We get like we just had a birthday party for an 87 year old woman. We’ve had basketball teams come in, have their parties and dine in and we just love to share people having fun.

Amy Gabay 10:19
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse local. Find out more about us at lacrosselocal.com and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.

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About La Crosse Local

La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.

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