A former bank building on Tower Avenue is being repurposed into a pizza restaurant and CBD shop.
A Superior branch of Toppers Pizza is slated to open Oct. 19 at 1214 Tower Ave.; Port City Collective plans to open on the other side of the building by Halloween.
Ryan Tepsa owns the Toppers Pizza at 1231 E. Ninth St. in Duluth and the new Superior location. He said the decision to expand was based on popular demand. Since purchasing the Duluth restaurant in November, he’s been getting daily calls to bring Toppers signature pizza to Superior.
“I can’t service that from the East hillside,” Tepsa said.
The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted plans to open the new location earlier this year, but now Tepsa is ready to expand.
“It's a good time to get the ball rolling,” he said.
The former Community Bank and Trust building is a great location, offering good foot and vehicle traffic and a new next-door neighbor in Port City Collective.
“We’re both young companies and good with each other,” Tepsa said.
The restaurant will focus on delivery and curbside pickup, with limited seating in the large lobby. Tepsa said he’s in the midst of hiring more than 30 employees for the Superior Toppers Pizza location. He has 21 employees at the Duluth restaurant. The positions are listed on Indeed, Tepsa said, and will soon be on the corporate website. People can also call the Duluth store, 218-525-4500, for an application.
Toppers Pizza, headquartered in Whitewater, Wisconsin, has more than 75 locations in 16 states, according to the company. Tepsa said the chain’s house pizzas and signature breadsticks set Toppers apart from other pizza parlors, as well as its later hours. The Superior Toppers Pizza will be open until 2 a.m. And on Oct. 15, Tepsa said, Toppers Pizza will roll out a vegan menu.
Port City Collective
Port City Collective will offer a variety of hemp products, including a handful of local brands, a house brand and as a handful of West Coast brands.
“We want to give people an option,” said majority owner Colton Allen. “There’s a wide variety for people to pick from and really find something that works for them.”
In addition to CBD products, Port City Collective will carry tobacco and vape products and a small selection of hand-blown glass.
This is the first location for the business, and owners want to set it apart.
“We’re just really about quality,” Allen said. “We really want to educate people about the products we carry and teach people how they can benefit from these things.”
The Duluth native is the former owner of Common Apparel, a skate and snowboarding-based clothing business.
“I learned a ton doing that,” Allen said, and he plans to put that to practice at Port City Collective.
Why locate in Superior? One of his partners owned the building, Allen said, and it’s well-positioned to serve customers in both Duluth and Superior. The shop is also a foot in the door for what he sees as the eventual legalization of marijuana products in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“I think that full legalization for cannabis is coming soon,” Allen said. “Obviously the products we carry go hand-in-hand with actual cannabis products.”
The building was built in 1917 as a retail store, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society's architecture and history inventory. A plaque on the exterior indicates it was founded in 1919. It became Community Bank and Trust in 1941 and was remodeled in 1971. More recently, it served as a branch office for National Bank of Commerce. Tepsa said the building retains many of those bank touches, including a vault on the Port City Collective side and old safety deposit boxes and an old tube delivery system in the basement.