After 10 years of serving Australian meat pies, KO Catering & Pies owner Sam Jackson told Boston.com that he’s selling his business and heading back to his home country.
“Australia beckons,” he said.
Jackson first considered selling his business in 2019, with the idea that he might be able to live part time in Australia and part time in Boston. He had a couple interested takers, and even had plans to fly back to Australia in March 2020 to purchase property, solidifying his exit before the KO lease ran out at the end of the year.
“And then COVID took the limelight from me,” he said, laughing. “I never made it to Australia.”
While he ended up buying the house, Jackson has spent the last year focusing on maintaining his East Boston business: signing a one-year lease extension, outfitting his restaurant to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols, and serving meat and vegetarian pies for takeout and delivery from his waterfront restaurant.
“This has been an incredibly tiring time,” he said. “Working to keep everybody safe is such an incredibly large amount of added stress that people probably don’t understand, because you have to keep in mind everybody’s health and safety, whether its customers, delivery drivers, staff members.”
Jackson said that he now feels that there’s hope on the horizon.
“Whether it’s the vaccine or the new administration, most people now have a level of hope that probably wasn’t around six months ago,” he shared.
Still, the time has come. Jackson recently sold his Boston home, and he re-listed KO Pies on Monday, hoping that the long lead time before the lease runs out at the end of 2021 will give a potential buyer the flexibility and time to work out the right deal with KO’s landlords.
Buyers have two options when purchasing the business.
“You either get a little piece of my soul, and all the recipes and all the secrets that I have around the meat pie world [to continue the business],” he said. “Or the second thing would be to purchase the beer and wine license, which is a fully transferable, seven-day Boston beer and wine license, and all the applicable assets that we have, plus a tried and tested location that has become, dare I say, a bit of a legendary landmark in the Greater Boston dining scene. I’m comfortable either way.”
Jackson opened the original KO Catering & Pies in South Boston in 2010 before expanding to the East Boston Shipyard in 2012. He closed the Southie location in 2018, telling Boston magazine at the time: “I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for us. We owned the building, we sold the building. It’s nice to go out on our own terms.”
Once the businesses has sold, Jackson will move to Tasmania, a small island state off the southern tip of Australia, where he’s purchased land that he’ll use to grow vegetables and raise animals. A good, long rest is the first order of business, but he said he hasn’t ruled out the idea of getting back into the food and beverage industry. He’s even considering bringing a bit of Boston with him.
“The one thing I’ve thought about that may be quite fun to do once I’ve settled in is maybe bring a bit of New England down there, and do things like lobster rolls and roast beef sandwiches,” he said. “I might not have a New England accent, but I’ve lived here long enough that I’ve got my chops.”
In the meantime, KO remains open for takeout and delivery, and the patio will reopen in March. With an undefined closing date, Jackson and his staff will be able to take time saying goodbye to their customers.
“We’re still going to be as safe as possible, we’re not going to drop our guard,” Jackson said. “We also want to reflect on what a remarkable 10 years it’s been. Anyone who can get to 10 years of anything in life — marriage, business, playing for the same sports team — 10 years is a really good achievement. Let’s celebrate this final year.”
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