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Lucette's in Hackensack moves

After just more than 11 years in business, one of Hackensack's favorite pizza places closed its doors Aug. 31. But the business staple didn't go far - just across the street and down the road.

After just more than 11 years in business, one of Hackensack's favorite pizza places closed its doors Aug. 31. But the business staple didn't go far - just across the street and down the road.

Cindy Paulsen, owner of Lucette's Pizza & Pub, said she closed the doors of the old location to save money and keep the business running strong. She was to reopen in a smaller space this month.

"We're downsizing to save money. It's either downsize and tighten our belts and be more economical, or if we didn't tighten our belts, we could possibly go out of business. Propane skyrocketed last year. That's a 6,000 square-foot building to heat, and in the winter we don't use all 6,000 square feet. It makes better sense," Paulsen said.

Paulsen said her summer business was strong enough to justify the floor space, but winter business is much less. When she first began seeking a new location, Paulsen said Lucette's nearly moved out of town.

"I actually had the keys for Wilson Junction, the nice log building for sale or lease in Wilson Township. I had met the health inspector out there. I met Northern Septic out there and a building contractor. I was looking to move there. I was very excited. My staff was aware of it. We were very excited for the move. We were kind of nervous about uncharted territories, because we were leaving our home base of Hackensack where Lucette is famous," Paulsen said.

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In the meantime, Paulsen was asking around Hackensack for hoods for restaurants. A pair of landlords who owns five commercial buildings in Hackensack informed her that one of their renters, Kristi's Coffee Corner, was leaving and they would have a vacancy with a kitchen. When Paulsen realized she could keep her business in Hackensack, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

"It was literally like a flash in a pan. It happened so quick. At first I didn't think there would be enough room here, but they suggested I lease the second building. I thought, 'Oh, my gosh! That's perfect,'" Paulsen said.

Paulsen made a plan to rent the former coffee shop space and the next door antique shop for her business with the hope of having her restaurant and bar in the former coffee shop during the winter, and then moving the bar business into the former antique shop when the weather gets warm. With this arrangement, Paulsen will heat much less space and save money in the meantime. Future plans include an outdoor seating area during warmer months.

Paulsen expected to reopen Sept. 15, but there were bumps in the road. Moving equipment across the street and down the block took only five days; cosmetic updates to the restaurant took longer than expected and applying for a liquor license embroiled Paulsen in a heated dispute with the city.

Paulsen and her customers are excited to see pizzas flying out the door again.

"I get voice messages every day on the answering machine. People pop their heads in the door when we are here and say, 'We want some pizza, Cindy, open up.' I'm looking forward to being up and running," Paulsen said. "It's been a long three weeks. I kind of want to do a soft opening and we'll plan a grand opening. Until we open I won't know when that (the grand opening) will be."

When the doors do open again, customers will be able to get all of their old favorite foods. Not much will have changed aside from the location and space.

"We have the same staff. We have the same equipment. Obviously, we'll have less seating. I would say a good 40 percent of our business is to-go business anyway, if not higher," Paulsen said. "When we closed we had 15 employees. I would like to bring them all back. I think three of them are doing other things. I'm probably bringing back 12."

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In the meantime, Paulsen said moving an entire business can be chaotic.

"It feels like living in Where's Waldo," Paulsen said.

Related Topics: HACKENSACK
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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