San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 7th, 2008
Skanse opens two shops in one

By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large

BUDA – What do you have when your restaurant is on Main Street and your coffee house is on the other side of railroad tracks running through the middle of town?

If you’re Richard Skanse, you have a decision to make. Skanse made it recently, he and his family did the heavy lifting to implement the decision, and now Skanse has both of his businesses under one roof on Main Street.

The Coffee Nut, Skanse’s three-year-old coffeehouse and bookstore on Railroad Street, is closed. The coffee portion has been moved to Constantine’s Pizzeria, Skanse’s lunch and dinner restaurant on Main Street.

Skanse used to spend his entire days at The Coffee Nut before opening Constantine’s in September 2006. Then, he started spending his entire days at Constantine’s.

“I missed The Coffee Nut,” Skanse said.

The coffee business and the restaurant business are two very different enterprises because of their clientele. Skanse said the coffee business is heavy in the morning, then slow but steady through the day. The restaurant is busy at lunch and dinner times, but so slow in between that Skanse closed it from 2 to 4 p.m.

By combining the two, Skanse expects to maintain a good flow of traffic through the day. After opening the combined operation on Sunday, Skanse kept Constantine’s open from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday.

“I was surprised by how busy it was,” he said.

Skanse moved the trolley he used as a coffee stand at The Coffee Nut over to Constantine’s and shifted some tables around. Though he feared losing significant capacity at Constantine’s, Skanse really only reduced it from 42 seats to 35. In addition to making more available to customers under one roof, Skanse also reduces his rent costs and can use his labor more efficiently.

With more efficient use of labor, Skanse now hopes to hire more of it as he looks for cooks and wait staff. Up to now, he has generally handled the kitchen by himself, which becomes a problem when a large order for pizzas comes over the phone. Considering he cooks every pizza to order and needs about six minutes to prepare each one for the oven, he said extra sets of hands would make a big difference at busy times.

The menu at Constantine’s will include coffee drinks, sandwiches, pizza and, now and again, live music. Constantine’s also is starting to make its own gelato. At some point, Skanse said, he would like to find homes for his other enterprises, such as the books and costumes he used to sell out of The Coffee Nut. He can’t fit all of it under one roof. Someday, he’ll probably need another one.

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