Coffee hut removed and replaced

A new Sunrise Bagel & Espresso location opened on Geist Road within walking distance of the company’s existing drive-through hut.

Various customers were confused about the second hut, but the new addition is not intended to be a second location. Rather, it is meant to replace the older hut. The old hut has since been closed down and hauled off.

 

Sunrise owner, Bill Vivlamore, considered both customer convenience and structural improvements when making the decision to replace the older structure.

“We really needed to upgrade this location due to the increased volume,”he said of the hut serving Geist traffic the last 12 years. “Our landlord didn’t want to sell us the property that we’d rented for so long, but we were able to purchase the lot next door. Our preference is to own all of our locations, so it worked out well.”

Stand manager Nicole Swoffer said it would have been possible to simply pick up the old hut and move it when their current lease is up, but that would not be ideal.

“It’s a very old hut,” she said, adding that one customer has been a regular at that location for more than a decade. “Just like you’d renew and upgrade a restaurant, you’ve got to renew a coffee hut.”

Before it’s replacement, the popular hut on Geist was the oldest structure in the company, according to barista Allyson Buggy. The company operates out of eight locations, including one in North Pole and one at Eielson Air Force Base.

“[It’s] falling apart at the seams,” said barista Cheyenne Perlinger of the old hut. “It’s got cracks down the center. Everything is breaking constantly.”

The upgrade boasts improvements on several levels.

“I have commercial fridges and a freezer,” said Swoffer, who’s been waiting for the upgrade since Sunrise leased the adjacent property three years ago. “I have an island in the middle and more storage really is the big thing.”

Exterior improvements have been made as well; the new hut runs parallel to the road rather than perpendicular.

“The wind comes in so hard off the road here into the window, I think that’s why they changed the angle,” said Buggy, regarding the previous hut’s location.

This change was also made to ease the traffic flow at the drive-thru, offering more space for a longer line. The old hut had room for a line of only four to five cars on one side and a much larger space on the other side, creating unnecessary traffic and, subsequently, a longer wait time. The new setup aims for more business and faster service.

“Our focus over the next couple of years will be to identify new locations or markets,” said Vivlamore.

It’s been a long time coming for the upgrade, according to Swoffer.

“Everyone is excited,” Swoffer said, smiling. “All the regulars are excited. They’re just as excited as Allison and I, if not a little more.”

As for the old hut, Swoffer said, “they might use it for a training hut; there are endless opportunities.”

Over the past 15 years that Sunrise has been operating on Geist Road, Vivlamore “can’t imagine less than 100” of the baristas have been UAF students.

Mackenzie Sylvester has been a barista at Sunrise for over a year now. She works in the summer and part time through the school year.

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