MIDWEST CITY — Schlotzsky's franchisee David Jones took the company's motto of “Lotz Better” to heart, adding posh extras to his new location here, including upscale apartments above the restaurant.
The $1.5 million project less than a mile from Tinker Air Force Base's main gate is part of the city's effort to revitalize the area known as the “Original Mile,” by providing attractive, mixed-use housing within walking distance to the Town Center Plaza shopping center, the city's major retail development. It's the first Schlotzsky's restaurant to feature housing above.
The restaurant opened in December and construction on the four upstairs apartments should be complete this month, Jones said. The 800-square-foot apartments have a private entrance and will feature crown molding, granite countertops and appliances including microwaves, stackable washer and dryer and 50-inch flat screen TVs. Jones' son, David, who manages the Midwest City restaurant, will live in one unit and the other three will be rented for $1,000 a month.
“It's just like downtown Bricktown — in Midwest City,” Jones said.
Amenities continue throughout the restaurant, with a water fountain in the patio area, a media wall with flat-screen TVs and space for laptops in the dining room, tall booths, a cozy fireplace, baby changing tables in both men's and women's restrooms and plates to serve the sandwiches on. Jones said he didn't want his guests eating out of baskets.
Most stores go above and beyond the Schlotzsky's corporate model, but each was made to give the restaurant a homey feel because to Jones, Midwest City is home. His father, Kenneth Jones, worked for Tinker for 30 years and David Jones grew up in Midwest City.
Though a career with Pepsi Co. took him to California and Texas, when he decided to open a business his family could be involved in, it was time to come home, he said.
Jones opened his first Schlotzsky's in Moore in the summer of 2011, which his daughter, Sarah, manages.
“When I was looking for a place to put our second franchise, Midwest City was at the top of the list because it had sentimental value,” David Jones said.
For Schlotzsky's, it was an opportunity to re-enter Midwest City with an established franchisee, said Amanda Palm, a spokeswoman for Schlotzsky's, which is based in Austin, Texas.
She said the company allowed Jones some flexibility in designing his restaurant and building, which he owns.
“We knew in looking for sites this was simply a good place for our brand. We wanted to be a part of the redevelopment efforts the city was putting into this particular area,” she said.
In December 2011, Midwest City published its revitalization plan for the Original Mile, a one-square-mile neighborhood defined by SE 15 on the north, SE 29 on the south, Air Depot Boulevard on the west and Midwest Boulevard on the east. Much of the classic, 1940s wartime housing built there was becoming dilapidated and was in desperate need of a face-lift.
Midwest City Mayor Jack Fry said when Jones approached the city with plans for a new Schlotzsky's restaurant, he pitched the idea of adding a housing element. Jones, who has no experience being a landlord, was the first business owner to take a chance on the city's vision.
The apartments are within walking or biking distance to the many stores and restaurants at Town Center Plaza and are perfect for somebody looking to live an urban lifestyle, the mayor added.
“It is a bold step for the city. We're changing a little from suburban America to urban America. It's time for Midwest City to adopt some of the architectural things going on around the country,” Fry said. “Sometimes, I think we need to think outside the box ... and this was a place we could do that.”