An expanding pizza chain will plant its flag in the Upstate with a new store in downtown Spartanburg.
Georgia-based Stoner’s Pizza Joint has signed a lease on the 1,400-square-foot former Sake Grill at 256 N. Church St. beside the Spartanburg County Employee Health Clinic, across the street from the Spartanburg Marriott.
Drew Ciccarelli, co-owner and head of franchise development for Stoner’s, said the company plans to renovate the space during the next few months, with the store expected to open in early December.
He said the restaurant will create about 20 jobs.
“We thought this was a good location,” Ciccarelli said. “It’s right across from the Marriott. There are several colleges around. Traditionally, we’ve done very well in college towns.
He added, “We like all of the growth that is happening in Spartanburg.”
Ciccarelli said the store will be corporately owned. It will be followed soon by the company’s first restaurant in Greenville.
Ciccarelli said Stoner’s is currently searching for a space in Greenville, with the ideal size being 1,200 to 1,500 square feet.
He said the company is also looking for franchisees in the Upstate to help it open up to two restaurants in Spartanburg County and three stores in Greenville County.
On Friday, Stoner’s opened a store in Moncks Corner, bringing its total tally to 22 stores in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas.
Ciccarelli said the company will have 30 stores by the end of the year and will soon break new territory with operations in Tennessee and Alabama.
He said 25 percent of the stores in Stoner’s portfolio are company-owned, while 75 percent are franchise locations. That mix will be 20 percent company-owned and 80 percent franchisee-owned by the end of the year.
Founded by Joel and Jenny Harn, the company has thrived on a takeout/delivery model and a menu chocked with a variety of pizzas, sandwiches, salads, calzones, Stromboli, wings, lasagna, desserts, and other items made from fresh ingredients.
According to the company’s website, Stoner’s offers a range of specials, such as two large 1 topping pizzas with a 2-liter drink for $16.99.
Ciccarelli said the Spartanburg store will deliver to customers within a 5-mile radius, which he said encompasses about 140,000 homes.
He said the store could open for lunch at 11 a.m. each day. It will likely be open until midnight or later Thursday through Sunday.
Ciccarelli said the company will host a grand opening for the restaurant where it will award the first 50 customers a certificate for one free pizza per week for a year. That translates into 52 free pizzas.
Andy Hayes with Spartanburg-based Spencer/Hines Properties represented the building’s owner, while Geoffrey Southard of Trident Commercial represented Stoner’s in the lease agreement.
Hayes said the building has only sat vacant for a few months and has attracted a lot of interest.
“We had several opportunities to lease it, but we wanted to make sure it would be something good for downtown,” Hayes said. “Morgan Square is filling up and it looks like the next area of growth will be along the Magnolia Street corridor. The question is, where are things moving next? I think you could see a lot of growth happening in the area around [Stoner’s Spartanburg store].”
The building is located in a 3.5-acre block of property between Daniel Morgan Avenue, and North Church, Archer, and Magnolia streets.
Of the 16 properties that make up the block, nine are currently vacant, including the former Magnolia Street Pub and BB&T bank branch.
A spate of new and existing developments could make the block more attractive to potential investors in the coming months.
Those developments include a new office building behind the Marriott, the $29 million redevelopment of the historic Montgomery Building, a potential redevelopment of the Spartanburg County Courthouse at 180 Magnolia Street, the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, and development activity in the city’s Northside neighborhood.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest in that block,” said Tim Satterfield, vice president and broker-in-charge of Coldwell Banker Commercial Caine. “There are plenty of opportunities. I don’t think it will be long before we see downtown grow in that direction.”