ANDERSON — The Pizza Hut at 2425 Broadway will close soon, its owners confirmed Tuesday.
The move will create another vacancy along the North Anderson corridor that economic development officials say poses unique challenges when it comes to attracting and keeping retail businesses.
The decision by owners Gary and Nancy Coomer to shutter the Broadway location and open a carry-out store in the plaza anchored by the Pay Less Super Market at Cross Street and Scatterfield Road has been in the works for close to two years. Gary Coomer said they investigated a few sites and looked into purchasing the lot the current store occupies, but could not find a cost-effective solution for keeping the restaurant open in its current format.
“We ended up settling on out there at the Marketplace,” Gary Coomer said. “It’s certainly a busy, busy place.”
Pizza Hut is the latest retail business to leave the North Broadway area, a reality that some officials say is more indicative of the changing nature of retail rather than the current business environment in that part of town.
“This is not necessarily an Anderson issue,” said Greg Winkler, executive director of the Anderson Economic Development Department. “This is a change in the way people purchase goods in the marketplace. If you want to stay in business with a brick-and-mortar store, you have to provide a unique experience, one that people are willing to climb in their car and go to (have) that experience.”
The Coomers own 21 Pizza Hut stores, including six locations in Madison County. Two of the three Anderson stores are primarily carry-out only. Gary Coomer said that customer demographics is a key factor in determining each restaurant’s focus.
“Those kinds of decisions are all situational,” Gary Coomer said. “Towns like Pendleton, where you have a location outside a metropolitan market, it’s easier to offer that dine-in option. It may also be a modified version where you have a carry-out store with seats. It’s really situational with the demographics, how that works.”
Winkler said Pizza Hut’s impending departure from the north side does not change the city’s overall strategy for pursuing businesses to fill the area’s retail void.
“We’ve had several really good food retailers that have been shopping us,” Winkler said. “Getting them into the part of the community we want them in is a challenge.”