Pizzeria by sinkhole: Yes, we’re open!
BY SCOTT SANDORA
OU News Bureau
One Fraser business owner is using pizza to aid in the town’s efforts to solve its sinkhole crisis.
T.J. Spreitzer, co-owner and manager of Green Lantern Pizzeria, has given free pizzas to the construction crew and police officers on duty since the massive sinkhole opened and began swallowing houses in December. The gaping devastation could keep people out of their homes for over a year.
“We are happy to give all the workers free pizza while we can, but it’s getting tougher and tougher,” Spreitzer said. “Especially with all that’s going on.”
Green Lantern Pizzeria was without power and vacant for two days before reopening. Spreitzer remained positive as he welcomed all the officials tasked with fixing the sinkhole into his restaurant for free pizza.
Yet, due to the proximity of the sinkhole, the restaurant struggles for business.
The half-mile stretch of road where the sinkhole lies has been closed to all but local traffic. Consumers can no longer get to any of the small businesses in that area from either direction.
Instead, customers must come in from the east by ignoring the Road Closed sign at the nearest intersection and continuing to travel westbound on 15 Mile Road. The blocked stretch of road is under construction but not off limits to traffic heading to the nearby small businesses.
“We are working to open up two lanes for traffic to get all the way through, but it could be eight months to a year before everything is back to normal,” said Paul Torres, construction superintendent for Lanzo Lining, a construction company from Michigan and Florida that restores sustainable infrastructures.
The Green Lantern Pizzeria is limited to mostly regulars who are aware that the restaurant is still open. To lure drive-by customers, Spreitzer has spread the word by making large Open for Business signs and placing them at the edges of the closed road.
“We can’t thank the loyal customers enough,” Spreitzer added. “Their willingness to overlook such an inconvenience for our business truly goes a long way.”
Spreitzer first heard of the disaster when his brother and co-owner, John Spreitzer, called him and said there was an evacuation of all buildings surrounding the restaurant.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the 250-foot-long and 100-foot-wide sinkhole forced the evacuation of 23 neighboring homes. After weeks, 20 of the 23 homeowners moved back in to their houses. Three homes are condemned. The estimated cost to fix the sinkhole and the resulting sewer damage could reach over $100 million.
Spreitzer has introduced new ways to attract customers. Green Lantern Pizzeria will offer certain “buy one, get one free” menu items and has adapted a system which he calls the 30-minute lunch.
During lunch hours, the restaurant will hand customers a timer that rests on the table and is set for 30 minutes. Green Lantern will promise to prepare the meal and have the bill returned to the customer before the timer is up.
Spreitzer remains optimistic.
“Everyone from the city council, police department and department of public works have been extremely helpful throughout this process,” Spreitzer said.
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