The Loop lands on new location

The Loop lands on new location
Rendering of the new location for The Loop Pizza Grill on Lakeside Drive

Fans of The Loop Pizza Grill won’t have far to go to dine at its newest waterfront location.

After months of speculation among local residents, it was announced Nov. 18 that The Loop would become the first tenant in The Bridge at Sadler Point, a multi-use 18,000-square-foot building at 4619 Roosevelt Blvd., with entrance to the property on Lakeside Drive.

When the restaurant at St. Johns Village along Fishweir Creek closes Dec. 11, due to impending redevelopment of the property at 4000 St. Johns Ave., customers will say a temporary good-bye until The Loop re-opens in early 2017 about a mile away from its Avondale location.

Co-founders Michael Schneider and Terry Schneider signed a lease with Brooks Busey, owner/operator of Sadler Point Marina, for 3,100 square feet of space, where they plan to seat 116 diners inside, with additional seating on a patio.

Using the new design, which debuted at the St. Johns Town Center location, the Schneiders plan to modify it to fit the unique waterfront location.

In the meantime, after the restaurant closes in Avondale, The Loop is offering its employees the opportunity to be scheduled to work at one of the other five corporate Loop locations or four other area franchise locations, or wait to return when the restaurant re-opens.

“The well-being of our staff was very important to us, and we had thought about this years ago as to how the transition would take place to minimize disruption in their lives,” said Mike Schneider. “In a perfect world we would have had the construction completed and re-opened two days later [at the new location] but it’s not going to turn out that way.”

The Loop will close after the lunch rush on Sunday, Dec. 11, then Schneider will cater a Christmas party for the staff, including some former long-term employees, management team and ownership.

Counting on customer loyalty

Schneider shared a tale of leasing uncertainty that reaches back almost to shortly after they opened at St. Johns Village in 1988.

“The original developers and owners of that center got in over their heads and lost it back to the bank, then it was purchased by a residential investment company – the [Mochary] family who owned the Commander next door,” said Schneider. “They did not have any commercial properties, so they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get the adjacent land.”

Just prior to the recession [in 2006], Schneider said The Loop was notified by Michael Balanky that the family was looking at redeveloping it to make better use of the land.

“Their goal then was to do a retail/residential center, but the recession hit and the family and the developer put things on hold,” he said. “Over the following almost 10 years they went through one or two different efforts to revive some type of project but the family couldn’t come to consensus on what to do, so they sold it.”

The Loop had never been given more than a six-month out clause from any of the property owners, Schneider said, causing the company to deliberate for years on whether to stay or move. “We couldn’t do anything with the property except put band-aids on it,” he said. “Had sales dropped dramatically we would have been highly motivated to move it, but the customers were so loyal they kept coming despite the condition of the center and of our space.”

The company began looking at a number of opportunities early this past summer and, based on a customer survey done two years ago, had a list of choices that included Brooklyn, 5 Points, Park and King, the Shoppes of Avondale, and along Roosevelt Boulevard.

“The majority indicated Roosevelt and identified the Square area. We looked there, and along Roosevelt, and eventually heard about a project through a friend of a friend, who mentioned Brooks Busey’s development,” said Schneider.

“We met and saw what he had, but it was the conversation where he shared his vision of an opportunity to make the Ortega River property available for community activities and fundraising events that intrigued us,” Schneider related. “It was different enough, not a cookie-cutter shopping center, it was close to St. Johns Village, on or near the water. It was off the beaten path but I had always felt St. Johns Village was almost invisible to cars going by.”

Schneider attributes the close-knit community’s willingness to give something new a try and support it as a positive factor in leasing space at The Bridge. “The proximity to our previous location, the nature of the guests we served there for almost 30 years, I thought we would retain a good portion of our current guests, and by moving just a mile to the south we might open up some more traffic from areas we could build on, like Ortega Forest and Lakeshore,” he said. “We realized we wouldn’t get some of the same lunch business, but we felt Brooks’ vision and being near the water and the brand recognition was a gamble, but one we were willing to take.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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