When Art Bonn and his business partner Rolly Jackson were looking for a new venture, the plan was to find something that was “Internet-proof.”
Jackson owned the former RadioShack on Main Street, a once-popular retailer that has been hit hard by increased competition from online retailers.
“The Internet killed RadioShack,” Bonn said. “We were thinking something food-related. Something that we don’t have to cook, or have waiters on staff. A really simple concept.”
The fit to fill the storefront, they found, was a Papa Murphy’s Take ’n’ Bake Pizza shop.
Bonn managed the Pagosa Springs Papa Murphy’s for about eight months, and he and his business partner determined that Cortez would be a great market for a new store. The closest Papa Murphy’s location is in Durango.
After retrofitting the former RadioShack into a pizza shop, the new Cortez Papa Murphy’s quietly opened its doors on Monday, Jan. 5.
Bonn hasn’t advertised and decided not to put up a grand opening banner, typical of most new stores. He doesn’t want to overwhelm his small eight-person staff.
“Since we’re new and still learning menus and portions, I don’t want to give customers coming in for the first time a bad impression,” Bonn said.
Something many don’t realize about the Papa Murphy’s menu, he says, is that dough for the day’s pizzas is made in-house. Papa Murphy’s pizza makers also cut the vegetables, cheese and other toppings fresh and portion them out to a specific weights indicated on the menu.
It’s the company’s way of keeping pizza recipes consistent and inventory under control, he says.
Despite the store’s quiet opening, the public’s interest has been piqued since the official Papa Murphy’s sign went up on the front of the building. As the remodel and setup was underway, Bonn put paper covering over the windows but occasionally spotted a curious passerby peeping through.
“We opened at 11 a.m. (on Jan. 5) and had people pulling on the door to get in before then,” he said.
Chelsi Frascht, the store’s manager, said 120 pizzas were sold on the opening day.
The busy opening day was a good primer for $10 Tuesday, when the store sells any large four-topping pizza for $10. Bonn and Frascht expect to be busy, but say the store’s staff is still up for the challenge. He expects to hire an additional seven people to help out with increased business over the next few months.
“What we need is a crystal ball, but since we can’t its right now about learning patterns and how we can improve,” he said.