Biz Buzz, Oct. 14, 2012

Raechel Kolb half-joked that she planned to wear Energizer Bunny ears at the re-opening of Schlotsky’s Deli, 2463 Patterson Road.

That would have been fitting, given what the sandwich shop has endured the last several years. The most recent head-shaking event was a cigarette-sparked fire that closed the business for nearly four months.

But like that pink rabbit, the local Schlotsky’s just keeps going. Its owners, Raechel and her husband, Edward, made sure of that when they and their small group of employees began ringing up customers again Friday, 14 years to the date the Kolbs first opened the restaurant.

As Kolb remembers it, it was a windy, 95-degree day when the assistant manager went outside for a smoke break June 22. She tossed her cigarette butt onto a piece of cardboard. That lit up some nearby grass, which lit up a cedar fence, which ignited the gas meter, which shot natural gas over the top of the building.

“It was a raging inferno within 15 minutes of throwing that butt,” Kolb said.

The blaze destroyed the south side of the restaurant. It melted the walk-in cooler, and the heating and cooling system was ruined when it sucked in the smoke. Repairing and rebuilding cost $250,000, Kolb said.

The Kolbs tried to retain their 11 employees as best they could, including the assistant manager, but struggled to find enough work for them. The assistant manager ultimately decided not to return.

“We wanted her to come back because she’s a really good employee,” Kolb said. I told her, ‘I know it was an accident, it wasn’t on purpose.’ She was really devastated.”

Meanwhile, customers were anxious to start placing orders again.

Kolb said employees fielded 15 to 20 calls a day from people wondering when the restaurant would reopen. Several dozen showed up in person asking the same question. Some wandered in the front door, tripping over construction materials, oblivious to or ignoring the dust and the fact that there was no ceiling and stared at the menu board until they were informed that they couldn’t get a sandwich.

Kolb admitted she was nervous about reopening, largely because she and her husband hired four new employees. They spent Wednesday and Thursday training the new workers how to make sandwiches. And she and Edward worked 18-hour days last week in order to meet their re-opening date goal.

This summer’s fire was the latest in a series of setbacks the local franchise has overcome. A Grand Junction city project to bury a ditch along the south side of Patterson a few years ago made it difficult for customers to access the restaurant. At another point, the franchisor “went belly-up,” according to Kolb.

Suzanne Lavender needed to reduce the size of her pilates studio, The Pilates Space, in order to save some money. Fortunately for her and her clients, she didn’t have to go far.

The Pilates Space last month relocated from a downstairs location to an upstairs one in Sentinel Square, jumping up from 634 Main St., Suite 1 to 634 Main St., Suite 103. She lost quite a bit of exercise space, dropping from 1,300 square feet to 400 square feet, but she believes she has gained some visibility, since she’s now at street level across the alley from The Winery.

“It’s conceivable I will get more foot traffic,” she said.

Even in tighter quarters, Lavender said she can accommodate the same number of people as before. And the seven-year-old business is offering a special for new customers — a one-on-one session for $25.

Cups Coffee House, an offshoot of Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado, has new offerings to go along with a new name.

Artful Cup, located in the Miller Homestead at 3090 N. 12th St., has expanded its gift offerings to include items created by local artists.

Proceeds support Hospice’s Child & Teen Grief Program, which supports nearly 600 kids each year through initiatives including grief support groups, summer camps and partnerships with local schools.

Artful Cup is open 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Do you know about an area business opening, closing, moving or changing? Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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