The recent closing of the Earls’ Restaurant in North Nanaimo presented an opportunity too good for Lyle Sharkey to pass up. The owner of the Southgate Smitty’s Restaurant is going to be constructing a second outlet for the franchise on the site of the former Earl’s Restaurant.
“We’re going for two, we’ve done a lot of research on this location and this site (Southgate) serves from Harewood, Cinnabar, Cedar, Ladysmith and the downtown area. But we find that we don’t really get any volume at all from the northend,” he explained June 30.
“When we look at our comment cards, our Seniors Club sheets that come in, we find the northend is only slightly represented. I think the only people we get from the northend might be those who’ve gone shopping at Rona’s or something, almost like they’ve found us by accident.”
The availability of the former Earl’s location was the inspiration for planning a second outlet to serve the city’s northend. “The Earl’s site is a lease. Right now the landlord is just completing their part of the work. They have to basically take it down to a shell (before construction can begin). Everything is basically with the city right now for the drawings and mechanicals and all that kind of stuff, so we’re hoping another couple of weeks with the city before we can begin.”
Sharkey is hoping that once the city hall hurdles have been cleared and the contractors are in place, work on the renovation project will get underway before the end of July. “We’re hoping for a mid to late July construction start and then a mid to late September store opening,” he said.
“Because this site was a restaurant all your services are there, your three-phase power, your parking, basically everything you need is already in place. You’re essentially refurbishing the insides. It’s not like a situation where a restaurant is going into an old video store or something, where they have no services and you have to start from scratch.”
A fixture in the local restaurant scene for nearly 20 years, Sharkey expects the new eatery to have approximately the same staff as the Southgate location. “We’re expecting to have a staff count pretty similar to what we have at this restaurant. We currently have about 35 on staff here, so we should have about the same once we get rolling at the new store.”