The move won't be far, though; in fact, it will be just one door down in the same building. Blue Pan will move to 3940 West Highland Avenue, which has been vacant since Highland Pacific Restaurant & Oyster Bar closed a few months before Blue Pan arrived on the block.
Flanagin says he and Smokevitch considered expanding the footprint of the pizzeria to both spaces, but that would mean closing Blue Pan for months during construction. They didn't want to lose customers and they didn't want to put employees out of work, so the decision to move rather than expand was easy. "We will not jeopardize our staff," Flanagin explains. "Everyone will remain employed through the move."
That won't be for a while, though, as the owners have to go through the permitting process and have their plans approved by the city. "Our best guess is fourth quarter 2020," Flanagin adds.
"But the biggest thing for us is the customer experience and the employee culture," Flanagin notes. With more space, even takeout customers will feel more comfortable, and servers will have extra room to converse with regulars and navigate between tables.
Flanagin's focus on employee culture is so important to him because he believes low turnover is crucial to his restaurants' success. Blue Pan runs turnover calculations every June, and as of last summer, the number came in at 15 percent, which translates to better customer service and retention of staff knowledge, making training new employees easier.
Even after the move, the West Highland Blue Pan is likely to be full every night, thanks to the great pies formulated by Smokevitch and the co-owners' dedication to doing things right.