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Pizza My Heart to expand Pacific Avenue location

Modified: Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2013

SANTA CRUZ — One of the classic pizza parlors in downtown Santa Cruz is expanding out into a much larger space.

The long, narrow Pizza My Heart location on Pacific Avenue -- the location that was opened second in the popular chain -- will be expanding into the space next to it that used to be the Acapulco Mexican restaurant.

“We hope for April 1 start of construction, and we plan to stay open throughout,” Pizza My Heart, Inc., Chief Executive Officer Chuck Hammers said Monday.

The pizza chain started with its small location on the Capitola Esplanade in the early 1980s. The downtown Santa Cruz location was opened a few years later. It moved to its current Pacific Avenue location after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

To get an idea of how big the expanded restaurant will be, consider the chain’s 41st Avenue location with its many booths and large-screen TVs, and then think bigger.

"The store will be slightly larger than 41st Avenue,” Hammers said. Part of the reason for the expansion is the popularity of the Santa Cruz Warriors, which play a few blocks away in the new Kaiser Permanente Arena. The team plays in the “D-League,” which stands for development league, and it serves as the farm team for the Golden State Warriors and other NBA teams.

The Warriors have been selling out their home games, and the new team is attracting large crowds to downtown. The team’s next home game is Feb. 20.

“The Warriors games are attracting good numbers for us,” Hammers said. “We are seeing many families before their home games.”

A much larger Pizza My Heart will certainly be a draw for not just Warriors crowds, but also for UC Santa Cruz students, shoppers, moviegoers, tourists, surfers and more.

“(The expansion) is exciting for us, because we currently cannot serve groups of any size downtown,” Hammers said. “We have found in 41st that we are attracting many families, especially for kids’ ‘make your own pizza nights’ on Tuesdays. We think this will also become popular downtown, once we have more seating.”

Matt De Nesnera, manager for public and community relations for the

Santa Cruz Warriors, said he did not have numbers on how many people are heading downtown for games, but he’s pleased with the uptick.

“As you've seen at the games, we've worked hard to create a fun, family-friendly atmosphere and affordable activity for everybody, hoops fans and first-timers alike,” De Nesnera said. “We pride ourselves on the ability to have a positive impact off the court as well -- whether it's with the Boys and Girls Club, local schools, Grind Out Hunger and other local nonprofits.”

For the complete article see the 02-05-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-05-2013 paper.

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