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Going for it: Young entrepreneurs have little to lose

By By Edward M. Eveld

The Kansas City Star (MCT)

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17 2013 12:07 p.m. MDT

Friends and colleagues laughed when she thought about getting a puppy. Puppies require attention and time, they told her.

“Then I thought about a fish,” Yeager said. “I decided that wouldn’t be great either.”

It has been hard to pin down Pete Mesh until now. At 28, he’s on his third launch. But this one is personal.

Mesh grew up in Kansas City’s Columbus Park neighborhood, aka the north end.

His family’s house and his grandmother’s across the street were just two blocks from LaSala’s Deli on Fifth Street.

Their families, like many in the neighborhood, shared an Italian heritage. Mesh had been boyhood friends with one of the LaSala grandsons.

Mesh went to grade school and middle school in the area, then moved away and graduated from high school in 2003. He came right back the next year. He took a union job as a heavy equipment operator.

Never a follower, Mesh soon enough busted out with his own asphalt business. He did well for a couple of years, but when someone offered to buy him out, equipment and all, he was ready to move on.

He got into the auto transport business driving a truck, a venture he called solid for making money. But he was always, always on the road, moving vehicles from city to city.

Another good buyout offer, and he took the cash.

“What discouraged me was being away all the time,” said Mesh, who had bought his grandmother’s house a few years ago after she passed away.

As it happened, the LaSala family, whose name has been on the deli’s brick building since the 1920s, decided to close. That would be a big blank space in the neighborhood in terms of Italian food and generous sandwiches.

“If I couldn’t go to LaSala’s and get a ‘Rich Boy’ (eight layers of meats and cheeses), I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Mesh said.

So he bought the place.

And in nine months, he’s got it rocking again. He remodeled inside to open up the dining room. He tossed out the microwaves and added fresh ingredients.

With culinary help, he created some new menu items, including a hot Italian beef sandwich called “The Don Bosco” in honor of the community center in the Italian community.

Last week, he added a bar to serve beer and alcohol.

And Mesh picked a new name: the North End. The vibe continues to change in the area, more young people mixing with the old-timers, and he likes it.

“If I have anything to do with it, and if I can just have enough time to get this thing rolling, I can help put the neighborhood back on the map,” he said. “I like to be in control of my own destiny.”

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©2013 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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