Nathan Rusch

Lessons Learned from Station House Pizza

Nathan Rusch, Planning & Development Services, No Phone Number Available

Friday, August 22, 2014 at 2:15 p.m.

Lessons Learned from Station House Pizza

What used to be a seemingly neglected corner of the Market Street corridor is now the home of Historic Hillyard's newest business: Station House Pizza. Hoping to run into the owner during the lunch hour, I got a two-for-one special; the owner Jake Samuelson and developer Dwayne Alexander were sitting down together for lunch.

The question on the table was, “Why Hillyard?” With no negative connotations or disbelief intended, I wished to know what one who invested in this neighborhood saw as its strengths. What about Market Street made the site a good investment? Perhaps there would be some insight planners and future small business leaders could take to heart.

“It's cheap.”

How eloquent in its brevity.

Dwayne Alexander owns the Northwest Mailing facility attached to the new pizza parlor. The entryway along Queen Street between Haven and Market is the building's converted garage; and Dwayne would make better economic use of it. The space became a pizza parlor, boldly stated, “because there is no good pizza in Spokane.”

Jake Samuelson didn't disappoint. The man does good things with pizza. Jake collaborated with John Fazzari of Fazzari's Finest in Clarkston, Wash. to create a very different pizza from the Pete's and Perry Streets of Spokane. Jake uses a laminated cracker crust which holds its crunch down to the center of the pie and the Special Mustard Sauce may sound different, but I challenge anyone to try a slice of “The Hobo” and not enjoy it (Although, if bratwurst and sauerkraut aren't your thing, I'd steer you toward the House Special).

Cheap development may sound like the community is stretching for some positives, but it is a very real strength. Dwayne and Jake are action-oriented and business-minded men and they see very real opportunity in the historic district. Fifty years in the making and the North / South corridor will soon be a reality. That sort of access could make the cheap real estate along Market Street a very good investment in the long term.

The two men agree there is a need for a draw to the area. The corridor lacks certain amenities: eateries, coffee shops, and blue-collar taverns, among other things. As development in the industrial area occurs east of Market Street, where are the dining establishments that will serve workers on their lunch breaks? There is a need in Hillyard but for the entrepreneurially-spirited, cheap development opportunities may open the door to help fill that need.

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