Ready for changes

Date: AUG 17th, 2007

Topic: Franchise News

Get ready for a new eatery in Salmon Arm.

Angelo Andrieozzi, owner of Dixon’s and Hanna’s on the Trans-Canada Highway, is closing both restaurants and will open an Eastside Mario’s in the same location – with luck by Christmas. Between now and then, Andrieozzi will have a lot of work and a $1 million conversion to work through.

Building owner Jack Bowers will deal with the space occupied by Hanna’s and Andrieozzi, whose kitchen serves both restaurants and Shuswap Lake Lodge residents, says Bower will build a small kitchen for the lodge. When renovations are complete, Andrieozzi will have one kitchen to serve Eastside Mario’s and an adjoining adult-only lounge. Still waiting for architectural drawings, Andrieozzi says buying into the Italian-styled restaurant franchise is exciting.

“The town is ready for another big chain restaurant that’s food after my own heart – great aromas – roasted red peppers and garlic,” he says. “I thought, why let someone else come in and do this.”

Andrieozzi welcomes the fact he no longer needs to-worry about menu changes and the long hours of experimentation that goes into making them. But it’s a double-edged sword, he notes, pointing out that the food served at Hanna’s and Dixon’s is homemade.

“Our-cooks have learned how to cook, they get to use a knife to actually-make stuff with fresh ingredients,” he says. “But Eastside Mario’s has a lot of prep to make food fresh too.”

The toughest thing will be giving up those recipes that have made Hanna’s and Dixon’s so popular over the past three years and have people from as far away as Calgary calling to find out if something is still on the menu.

Andrieozzi is also concerned about his staff of 25 to 30, which includes four cooks, and finding interim work for them during what’s expected to be a three-month renovation.

“We’ll take staff back and we’ll have big job fair,” he says. “We’ll be looking for management staff too.”

Another worry is the loss of Dixon’s “really great blue-collar crowd,” that Andrieozzi hopes will come back when the restaurant and lounge open.

“These are the regulars, fantastic people,” he says. “It’s tough to see-some of those faces going elsewhere, they’ve been our bread and butter.”

Andrieozzi has operated Dixon’s for four years and Hanna’s for three years, with partner Trish Hanna, who left the partnership last spring.

“I owe Trish and her family thanks,” he says. “They helped out, even-moving to this town. Without her and her family, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now.”

Andrieozzi plans to keep Hanna’s and Dixon’s open as long as possible before closing for renovations and training in Kelowna with Prime Restaurants, the Toronto-based franchise headquarters.

“This is a Canada-wide company and I’ll be number 118,” he says proudly. “I’m super excited. This is a fantastic opportunity and I couldn’t do it without Jack Bowers.”

Dixon’s Liquor Store will remain open and Andrieozzi is hoping renovations will begin in September or early October.-