Nov. 20--OTTUMWA -- The city has lost jobs, tax revenue and, according to many, some really delicious pizza.
Papa John's in Ottumwa has closed its doors; a U-Haul truck was parked next to the Richmond Avenue pizza place Monday.
"We appreciated our customers, and I'm glad I got to know them a bit," said co-owner Kerry Asbridge.
His wife is an owner-manager. Once Jeri took over, he said, business really started booming. So why close?
"Seventeen months ago, we were told the city was building roundabouts. We attended meetings and asked if they would make arrangements for us to be able to have access," said Kerry. "They would never give us an answer."
He said one of the meetings had city council members present; he also talked to a zoning planner. Eventually, he said, a city employee told the pizza makers that the owner of the property would receive a letter explaining what would happen.
The Asbridges contacted their landlord about the construction of the roundabout. The property owner's representative, an attorney, contacted the couple: The lawyer told them the landlord had not seen any notice like that, Kerry says.
"So we didn't know if we'd be able to access our property for weeks ... it can take months. Our lease ends in December, so we had to make a decision. A business decision. We couldn't make a commitment without knowing if we'd be able to do business."
Hence, the closure.
"We did our best," Kerry said. "I just expected an answer."
He feels the public has been very supportive. They appreciate "the well wishes from customers," and he wishes the best to Ottumwa, he said.
"We had some outstanding workers here, with loyalty, professionalism. Our customers and employees, that may be the hardest part of this. They were people we could always count on, like clockwork. They worked hard right up until 10 p.m. [Sunday]."
That was when the last pizza was delivered; by Monday afternoon, the Ottumwa shop had been removed from the corporate headquarter's online store locator.
Contact reporter Mark Newman at [email protected] or visit his Twitter page, @CourierMark.
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