Some remodels consist of a few cosmetic upgrades and a load of promotion. Not our Sand Point remodel. After 20 years of brisk business, we decided a top-down overhaul was needed. Construction was equivalent to building out a new store—while it’s open for business! We were open every single day, which required a lot of coordination between the crew and the contractor. It also needed a flexible approach to business as usual. Customers coming for pickup were instructed to go to the back door. Quite a few predictable jokes about back-door dealing of illicit substances were made. Sand Point General Manager Robbie Pierce says, “Customers would wait by the back door, jostling with the mop bucket and the stream of delivery drivers coming and going.”
As of this August, after nearly six months of construction, the Sand Point store is open expanded hours and is busy serving pizza from its new slice bar in a much larger dining room. “It’s much more contemporary,” Robbie says. “I have customers coming in every day telling me how awesome this place looks.” And the back-door dealing is a thing of the past. Customers can now take a seat and order a beer on draft while they wait.
One of the improvements that customers might not notice right away is the efficiency improvements made to the kitchen. It’s a little like a car that not only got a new paint job, new tires and a whole new interior—but a new engine, to boot. Our revamped kitchen allows us to do everything we did before better and more quickly, shortening wait times during rushes.
Few not in the know would guess the essential ingredient that made the whole remodel possible—50,000 pounds of concrete. The biggest challenge we faced in improving the customer experience and workflow was a series of columns that support the multi-story apartment building above the store. Robbie says, “The space was filled with the world’s most unfortunately located pillars all around the store, including one right in the middle of the walk-in, which was fun.” Workers dug a six-foot trench and poured 25 tons of concrete to form an arch that supports the building. “It looks really cool and opened up the flow of the space,” Robbie says.
Dinners are predictably busy, and the new lunch business is picking up. “I had a line running out the door today,” Robbie says. “We’re seeing a great mix of people coming in for slices, and others are ordering a whole pie and eating in, others place orders for multiple pizzas and salads and take them back to the office. After the first day of school, a group of teachers came in and ordered about $300 of pizza and beer for the group. That was great.”