HANCOCK - Mike Shupe is so concerned about the construction of the Houghton streetscape project this summer, he's moving his Studio Pizza business from downtown Houghton to downtown Hancock.
Shupe, who opened his pizza, ice cream and photography gallery in 2003 on Shelden Avenue, is moving to the former Pic Theater building on Hancock's Quincy Street.
Shupe said he's concerned that if he stayed in Houghton it would be bad because the summer traffic into the store is so important for his business.
Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie
Mike Shupe, owner of Studio Pizza in Houghton, is moving the business to the former Pic Theater building in Hancock. After making some changes to the building, Shupe said he hopes to have the business moved by the end of June.
"We figured if we stayed in downtown, we would not survive," he said.
Shupe said he uses high-end ingredients for his two types of pizza sauce.
"Our profit margin is pretty slim," he said.
After making the decision to move, Shupe said he saw the Pic was available and he decided to buy it from Wisconsin-based Rogers Cinema.
Darrell Nicholas, a member of the partnership, which owned the Pic building, said it was built by the Mason family in 1910 for live performances and showings of films. Originally, it was called the Orpheum Theater.
In the mid-1950s, Nicholas said the Masons took on as partners Norbert and Jean Kahn, owners of Gartner's Department Store.
The Orpheum was renamed the Pic in the 1950s, and Nicholas said the Masons and Kahns owned and operated it until June 2005 when a partnership consisting of Nicholas, Paul Rogers of Marshfield, Wis.-based Rogers Cinema, and Larry Hanson bought it.
"The families were getting older," Nicholas said. "They decided they wanted to sell."
Six months after the purchase, Hanson died, Nicholas said.
"We were sort of in limbo for a year," he said.
Eventually, Nicholas said Rogers Cinema became the sole owner of the Pic and the Lode Theater in Houghton, but he's still associated with them. The company bought the Carmike Copper Country Cinema 5 last autumn, and put the Pic up for sale.
"The reason we decided to close the Pic was financial," Nicholas said. "You can run the mall theater with five screens for about the same price as (a theater with) one."
Nicholas said Rogers Cinema representatives didn't want the Pic to sit empty and were glad to sell it to Shupe.
"We wish Mike extremely well," he said.
Shupe said the movie screen, projector and seats have been removed from the Pic, and part of his agreement with Rogers Cinema is that there be a restriction on his showing films.
"We can't show movies that are less than a year old," he said.
He's begun work on the lobby of the Pic, Shupe said. Later this month, contractors will start working on it and expand it so he can use it to serve food. Besides the pizza and ice cream, he also plans to sell coffee.
Shupe said he intends to use the Orpheum name again along with Studio Pizza, but he hasn't decided yet on the exact form.
In the theater part of the building, Shupe said he'll construct tiers on the sloped floor to allow for the placement of tables.
"It's a first priority to get the front (of the building completed)," he said.
Eventually, Shupe said he wants to have live local music on the stage of the theater, and other events.
"It's going to be available as a banquet space," he said.
He intends to remake the facade of the Pic in brick and four windows, Shupe said, and although it won't be an actual restoration, it will have the "spirit" of the 1910 original.
Shupe said he hopes to move the business from Houghton to Hancock by the end of June.
He'll miss downtown Houghton, particularly the people.
"The single thing we're going to miss most is Vicky Williams of Victoria's Kitchen," he said. "She's been tremendously supportive."
Kurt Hauglie can be reached at khauglie@ mininggazette.com.