Memories are a funny thing. Not only can they can take you back to years gone by, but they can change your future when you never forget. One young teenager named Matt Wade never forgot J Burns’ Pizza.
When writing this article I was taken back to a time as a kid when my mother, brother and I went to dinner at J. Burns’ Pizza in the Grove Park Shopping Plaza. It is a memory that I will never forget because after eating at J. Burns’ we went to see Star Wars. (The original and best!)
I still remember how I loved the small, square, crispy pizza pieces at J. Burns’. There was nothing like getting a bite sized outside corner cut of that crispy pizza, and you know what I mean if you have ever had it. It is sort of like getting the outside corner piece of a brownie. There are some things that are just etched into our memories and J. Burns’ Pizza is one of those things for me, and evidently for a lot of others who grew up in Lakeland. J. Burns’ was a special place where families came together and teens hung out for fun and some of the best thin, crispy pizza you have ever had in your life.
For one young teen who worked there, not only did he never forget about J. Burns’ Pizza, today, Matt Wade at the age of 39 brought back that thin, crispy pizza and the famous J. Burns’ name when he and wife Courtney opened the J Burn Pizza shop in the Country Corner Plaza on the corner of Cleveland Height and Hallem in south Lakeland.As a teen Matt worked at the J. Burns’ Pizza in Grove Park Plaza. He probably either made or delivered your pizza. Matt first got pizza sauce running through his veins as a child. He lived across the street and grew up with Tom Jackson eating pizza over at Bernie Jackson’s house, one of the owners of the J. Burns’ Pizza Locations in Lakeland.
After college he traded pizza sauce in for auto grease when he went to work with his father who owned Day and Night Tire Service off of Drain Field Road in Lakeland. In 1995 he married his home town sweetheart, Courtney, and in 2006 when his father retired he bought the family tire business.
In the early 90’s the Jackson’s closed the J. Burns’ Pizza shops, but the memory of J. Burns’ Pizza never left Matt. “For the last 15 years,” Courtney says, “all Matt could talk about was someday opening J. Burns’ back up.” And now, with their second location opened this last January, Matt’s dream of bringing back the J. Burns’ Pizza name to popularity is fast becoming a reality. Not only for the old timers who remember when, but with a new generation of thin and crispy pizza lovers as well.
With an updated, sleek look, the décor is a simple red, black and steal palette. And the pizza is still as good as ever and maybe even better! Sort of like a lost love that you thought you would never see again, and then when you do, it is better than it was before.
For those who don’t know, J. Burns’ Pizza is not Chicago deep dish; it’s not fold a slice New York style of crispy and chewy and it is not Sicilian nor is it Neapolitan. Its crust is thin and crispy and is baked on bed of corn meal that slides off the pan with ease when baked to perfection. The sauce is tangy and semi-sweet with a special blend of spices that I am told has no preservatives or citric acid. The veggie toppings are garden fresh and you can taste the difference in the meats and cheeses that are top of the line.
And finally, to make sure the recipe was authentic, Tom Jackson personally helped Matt bring back the unique sauce and crust recipe that made J. Burns’ Pizza a local favorite for a past generation and for generations to come.
J. Burns’ Pizza Shop 2306 East Edgewood Drive Lakeland, FL 33803 863.937.9280 JBurnsPizza.com