Boston Pizza's building first restaurant in Alaska

A franchise operator for Boston Pizza Restaurants USA Inc. aims to open the first Anchorage location April 2, with other possible area sites to follow in future years.

A Fairbanks restaurant also is planned and could begin construction this spring, restaurant officials said.

Construction of the eatery, at Benson Boulevard and C Street, should be finished in March, said Don McMillan, general manager of franchisee Great White North LLC.

McMillan already operates a Boston’s Pizza restaurant in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Calgary, Alberta.

The restaurant’s menu features pizza, pasta, soups, sandwiches and salads with a sports bar on one side and a restaurant on the other.

Boston Pizza Restaurants also have operated a restaurant in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, and another in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, for several years, said company chief executive and owner Jim Treliving. Those restaurants have done well, "so it was natural for us to go to Alaska," he said.

"We thought Alaska would be a great spot for us," Treliving said in a telephone interview.

McMillan’s franchise agreement allows him to develop three restaurants in the Anchorage area, said Rick Villalpando, director of franchising and development.

"We see there’s a real opportunity for us in the Anchorage market," he said, adding that the area has only recently added other casual dining restaurants like its competitors Chili’s and Applebee’s. The separate areas for the sports bar and family dining help set Boston’s Pizza apart, he said.

"There’s a niche there for that type of concept. We think we’ll do very well there," he said.

McMillan said future Anchorage store development depends on diners’ response to the first restaurant.

"We hope to build one every year and a half in the next three to four years," he said.

The company plans to open another Boston’s Pizza in Fairbanks, said Villalpando, who is based in Vancouver. Negotiations are under way for property, and Villalpando hopes construction can begin in spring.

McMillan began planning for the Anchorage franchise nearly two years ago and obtained the franchise rights last August. Construction began in late September led by Anchorage-based general contractor Linder Construction Inc.

The restaurant measures 5,600 square feet and will seat 204 diners including 73 in the sports bar, he said. Another 52 seats will be available on the patio.

Boston’s Pizza will employ 75 to 80 people in full- and part-time positions, said McMillan, who in early January drove to the new Anchorage site from British Columbia.

McMillan said he initially chose the franchise for its dining concept and because of the people he met at the corporate office.

Boston’s Pizza traces its roots to the first store, which opened in 1964 in Edmonton, Alberta. The company later expanded across western Canada. The Richmond, British Columbia-based restaurant, which now operates more than 150 locations in North America, tallied more than $300 million in 2001 annual revenue. The company aims to open 30 to 45 restaurants in eastern Canada and 35 in the United States by the end of 2003.

Company owner Treliving believes a slowing economy won’t hamper growth plans, since Boston’s Pizza is a midprice restaurant.

The company operates a regional office in Dallas. Boston’s Pizza, which first entered the U.S. market in 1998, operates restaurants in Tempe, Ariz., Spokane, Wash., and Denver among others and is now building a restaurant in Grand Junction, Colo.

01/27/2002 - 8:00pm