Jan. 9—A global pandemic and a restaurant building that had been vacant for 3 1/2 years didn't deter Tyler Vitosh.

In August, Vitosh, who is a real estate agent and property developer, bought the former Burger King location at 1400 Pioneers Blvd.

The building, which was home to Burger King for more than 30 years, had been vacant ever since the local franchisee of the fast-food chain had closed it in January 2016.

But Vitosh said the fact that more than 61,000 cars a day go by the site made him sure it was worth taking a chance on.

"I really like the area and the traffic counts at that particular intersection," he said.

It also didn't hurt that he got a good deal on the building, paying $230,000, less than half its assessed value.

Vitosh spent the first few months sprucing up the property — repainting it, making some exterior improvements and redoing the parking lot — before advertising it for lease in November.

Because of the location and the drive-thru, he targeted coffee shops and got a fair amount of interest, with three potential operators showing interest in just a few weeks.

Locally owned Harbor Coffeehouse was the winner, so to speak.

"They moved the quickest," Vitosh said.

Harbor signed a seven-year lease for the eastern half of the building for what will be its third Lincoln location.

Bobby Bevins, who bought Harbor Coffeehouse in August, said the pandemic has really cut into business at its two locations, one in the Shoppes at Piedmont and the other in the West Haymarket, neither of which have drive-thrus.

"We need a drive-thru," he said. "I guess that's what's prompting this expansion."

Bevins said he likes the location at 14th and Pioneers because it's visible and accessible, and it's one of the busiest intersections in the city.

He said if the shop can entice just 2% of the cars going by to stop in, "that would be huge for us."

While the drive-thru is the big draw, the shop will have some limited seating. Bevins said there will be about 5-10 tables inside and a similar amount in an outdoor seating area.

In addition to coffee, Harbor will offer a large display case with gelato and an espresso bar.

Bevins said his lease starts in March, and he's hoping to be open as soon as possible after that. He said he'd like to be open before the end of March, but sometime in April is a more realistic goal.

Vitosh still has some work to do to split the building in two, including adding a wall and moving the bathroom to a location where it can be shared by both tenants.

He said he wants to get a retail tenant for the western half of the building and is "really open" about possibilities.

"I think about anything could go in there at this point," Vitosh said.


Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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