A lack of management, overworked staff and decreased marketing efforts could be contributing factors in Grand Avenue Pizza’s closure, General Manager Brittani Williams said.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Williams said. “When I first showed up, it was very absent in management.”
Opened 33 years ago, the pizza parlor was once recognized by the Food Network Magazine for offering Wyoming’s best pizza — the Thai Pie. But conflicts with the Connor Building’s prior owner led to deteriorating store conditions, prior management hurt the restaurant’s reputation and the company didn’t put a big enough emphasis on social media marketing, Williams said.
“In how the world has changed in the last 15 years with social media and TripAdvisor, it’s become far more important to care what the customer thinks,” she said. “We as a store in the last 15 years forgot about that.”
Williams said the store would close its doors Friday.
Currently owned by Chris Ransom, Grand Avenue Pizza was started by Ron Mavrich and his wife, Susan, and had one owner prior to Ransom, Williams explained. With a lack of new employees, she said staff became stretched thin in recent months, leading to a decision to close the eatery.
“(Ransom) told me that he doesn’t see any way to do it without me,” Williams said. “And that’s how the decision was made, unfortunately.”
Laramie Main Street Alliance Executive Director Trey Sherwood said another empty storefront on one of Laramie’s busiest intersections was problematic for the downtown district.
“It’s a bummer,” Sherwood said. “Main Street views the closure as a reminder we need to reach out to the businesses more and inform them about ways we can be part of the solutions to today’s changing economy. As an organization, we feel this loss personally.”
But even as Grand Avenue Pizza closes its doors, she said Main Street was working to help the next business owners.
“We have been working with the University of Wyoming to do a market analysis about what businesses would fit well in Shocktoberfest and on that intersection, so we have great data to share with the owners of those properties,” Sherwood said. “We’re working with (the Wyoming Department of Transportation) in 2020 to make that intersection friendlier and drive more foot traffic to those locations.”
But as far as the pizza parlor goes, Williams said she thinks it will close for good.
“(Ransom) wants to sell, and he would rather sell everything as a whole,” she said. “We’ve talked to one or two people about buying it, but no one has put an offer down. So, I think it’s done.”