Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 7 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 3 5 to wait six weeks for an insurance check before you can get a subcontractor to come in, you're ahead of the game." Pulling together funds to rebuild was half the battle. Securing the manpower and resources in a time of sky-high demand was the other. Wilder quickly realized the importance not only of having cash available but also of hav- ing a great relationship with a contrac- tor. His had just finished building two new Smoothie Kings over the prior eight months. "He called me and said, 'I'm on you. Don't worry.' But he also had to rely on subs, who were tough to get," he says. "Even today, I'm waiting on a guy to come out and fix a piece of sheet rock. It's all taking a long time because they're still doing full houses. I'm just grateful that I had a contractor who stuck by me." Wilder's 1,600-square-foot Denham Springs store wasn't due for a remodel until 2021, but it now boasts the brand's newest prototype design. He says he's still doing the math on what the total cost of the disaster has been. So far, the tab sits at around $300,000 for construction costs, lost revenues, borrowed money, all new FF&E, downtime, etc. And despite the fact that the store is back in business, business isn't fully back. "When we reopened, the one thing we heard over and over from customers was that they had a piece of normalcy back, but normal has a new definition here," Wilder says. "We're down about 30 percent in sales in that location." DEVASTATING FIRE Pita Pit Whitby, Ontario Estimated cost: $350,000-$400,000 Some disasters create such destruction that rebuilding isn't an option. For Pat Kane, a Pita Pit franchisee in Whitby, Ontario, just that kind of disaster struck in April 2015. Located in a block of historic buildings in the city's downtown district, the restaurant was destroyed in a massive fire that started after hours at the Jimmy O'Toole's bar next door and quickly spread to adjacent businesses. Kane had gone home for the night, but his late-night crew was still serving the after-bar crowd that was his bread and butter. It was just a regular day — until it wasn't. "I got a call from my manager saying firefighters had come to the store and wanted the staff to leave," Kane recalls. "I remember telling him they should stay and not miss out on the night rush. But they weren't given a choice. I showed up 20 minutes later, and the whole store was engulfed in flames. We couldn't do anything but just watch it go to the ground." Kane, a former bar bouncer who had bought the Pita Pit store for $130,000 six years earlier, had a young daughter and had just purchased a home. "It felt like a rock-bottom situation," he says. "So many things go through your head. How are you going to support your fam- ily? How are your employees, including The devastating fire that destroyed Pat Kane's original Pita Pit last April ended up being a blessing in disguise. Forced to relocate, he now owns a modern, efficient unit where sales are four times that of the old location's. Photo courtesy of Pita Pit/Pat Kane

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