By Jenny Neyman
As of Saturday, culinary connoisseurs on the central Kenai Peninsula will have one less place to buy high-end appliances and cool kitchen gadgets. The Allen and Petersen store in Kenai is closing.
Leon Barbachano, general manager for Allen and Petersen, said the decision to close was a result of the lease on their rental space expiring at the end of the month and the company’s plans to expand in other markets.
“We decided not to renew as we are purchasing a building in Wasilla and consolidating and spending our resources to remodel that,” Barbachano said.
They had the option for a five-year renewal on their lease at the highway end of the strip mall in the Safeway-Home Depot complex in Kenai, but didn’t want to commit to that long of a period.
“The Kenai store has been a good store for us, we’ve enjoyed our staff members and the public that’s purchased from us, but with the lease expiring it gave us an opportunity to decide what else we’re doing,” Barbachano said.
Allen and Petersen is buying a new building in Wasilla and plans to move its current Wasilla store into the new space after it is extensively remodeled. With the company’s efforts focused there and on its Anchorage store, it decided there weren’t enough resources to maintain the Kenai branch.
“We only have so much time and energy, and to be able to manage a major remodel at our new location would have been difficult,” Barbachano said.
The company prefers to own its own buildings, so the prospect of renting for five more years was not appealing.
“The Kenai store is a leased location. We really want to own the buildings we’re in. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to come back to Kenai at some point in time, but if we did it would be at an owned location,” Barbachano said.
The Kenai store has three full-time employees and one part-time high school helper. The employees were offered jobs at other locations.
“We offered them all positions in Anchorage and Wasilla. I don’t know yet if any of them are going to make that move. I would love to have them come with us, but I know a lot of them enjoy the lifestyle of living on the Kenai. And actually, one employee lives on the river so it would be tough to pull away from that.”