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South Minneapolis pizza mainstay struggling with perception issues

After rough few years, Jakeeno’s Pizza fighting to make a comeback
After rough few years, Jakeeno’s Pizza fighting to make a comeback 02:14

MINNEAPOLIS — For nearly half a century, Jakeeno's Pizza and Pasta has been a south Minneapolis mainstay.

"I think the longevity in the community is definitely something that sets us apart," said Amy Keegan, co-owner of Jakeeno's.

But that staying power has been tested in recent years. Part of their recent struggles is due to their location, just two blocks north of George Floyd Square.

"Right now, we're really struggling with getting people to come into the door," said Amy Keegan.

It's something Amy Keegan even brought up at a recent Minneapolis City Council meeting.

"As you can imagine, it's definitely been a struggle over the last few years," said Amy Keegan, during the council meeting. 

"I think the perception of what people see when they come into this area is the challenge that we're definitely facing," said Amy Keegan.

The re-routing of people is also part of the problem, with both bus routes and traffic routing away from the area, ever since George Floyd's murder and the unrest that followed.

READ MORE: Cup Foods sues Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey over loss of business at George Floyd Square

"Hundreds of people would be coming by every day on that bus route and now they turn the corner and miss us. We're not getting that stopped traffic," said co-owner Patty Keegan.

The goal now is getting people back in and giving them a reason to stay.

This past year, the owners have re-done the facade and are adding a bar, with hopes for a hard liquor license. Both will be coming soon, if all goes as planned. The owners will be seeking their hard liquor license approval at the city council on Tuesday.

"We had a local woodworker do the bar top. We're also trying to also find ways for people to stay a little bit longer, so we brought in the TVs as well," said Amy Keegan.

The two owners said it's about addressing misconceptions that the area is unsafe, while re-investing in their community, to ensure their place for another half-century.

"We feel safe and so we just need those people to kind of think outside the box of what their current comfort level is and kind of reinvigorate them coming back into the community," said Amy Keegan.

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