When a business loses its lease and must either move or close, it’s perhaps natural to surmise a rift exists between tenant and landlord.
Longtime customers of the westside Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant at 515 Mountain View Road in Rapid City were surprised when the restaurant suddenly shuttered in October, with the marquee out front announcing the loss of the restaurant’s lease and directing them to get their fried chicken at another KFC restaurant on East North Street.
But the closing of the west side KFC came as an amicable parting of the ways between fellow restaurateurs, property owner Jerry Scriver of Rapid City and KFC franchisee Joe Olienik, formerly of Gillette, Wyo., and now of Knoxville, Tenn.
Scriver said the building, built in 1977 and home to at least four other restaurants over the years, needed upgrades to the roof, heating and air conditioning systems, and restrooms.
“That building is so wore out I decided we can do something better there,” said Scriver, who also operates the area’s Millstone and Culver’s Restaurant franchises.
Scriver said he initially offered to build new from the ground up and later offered to install a new roof, heating and air conditioning systems, and remodel the bathrooms, if Olienik would agree to a long-term lease.
Olienik, franchisee of both Rapid City KFC restaurants as well as locations in Spearfish, Scottsbluff, Neb., and several in Wyoming since October of 2012, eventually declined and closed the westside restaurant when the lease ran out.
“Jerry had an opportunity to make better use of that property than to have it as a KFC restaurant. We did what our lease required us to do,” Olienik said.
“I sure wouldn’t disagree with Jerry at all. It had become a very high-maintenance facility,” he said.
Olienik said what he calls the Baken Park KFC had been located on opposite corners of Mountain View Road and West Main Street — once at the current location of Walgreen’s and also across the intersection where a Corner Pantry convenience store and a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop is now.
He recalls the former location farther north on Mountain View Road being home to a Burger King restaurant and a local eatery called Bullitts.
The building's original incarnation was home to Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips in the late 1970s.
But with KFC now closed at that location, Scriver said the building will be demolished and replaced with a new restaurant.
The new tenant is Rapid City’s second location for Blaze Pizza, according to blazepizza.com., joining another Blaze Pizza in the Rushmore Crossing Shopping Center.
Olienik said Scriver honored his lease to the end and had every right not to renew it for a short-term arrangement. Scriver said he fully understood Olienik’s call not to commit long term.
“He’s a great guy. He just didn’t want to obligate himself,” Scriver said.
Olienik isn’t ruling out another KFC restaurant in Rapid City, although he said he has just begun traffic research for a second location here.
“My relationship with Jerry has been brief, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed his company, and we’re parting on very good terms,” Olienik said.
“I’d like to think, and he would say this too, that it’s very possible our paths will cross again at some point,” he said.
In the meantime, Olienik hopes hungry southern fried chicken customers will continue to frequent his East North Street location, or stop by the KFC in Spearfish.
“Rapid City has been a very good market for us,” he said.