The Pantry Shelf opened it’s doors in Hazard in 1967 by Shirley Martin. Best known for it’s delicious doughnuts, The Pantry shelf is a locally owned staple in the community, and Martin’s daughter Susan Brotherton continues the small town tradition today. The Pantry Shelf was the first ever convenient store to come to Hazard, and most of its interior remains untouched by time. Brotherton decided The Pantry Shelf needed a face lift, and is currently undergoing major renovations, while still preserving it’s history and family-owned feel. Even the hoods above the fryers are original to the building, dating back to the 1970’s when the store first began its endeavours in doughnut making.
Brotherton first closed the laundry mat that was occupying more than 1/3 of the property and the overhead apartment. The store will now be expanded to fill the entire square footage of the store, making room for a double sized deli with a sandwich preparation station, a separate beer cave, and most importantly, a new fryer to meet the demands of the customers craving their infamous doughnuts that often sell out several times in one day. Brotherton says, “I already know we have great doughnuts, but we have times of the day we can not meet our demand, and that’s a good problem to have.”
Brotherton is planning to move the cash registers, lottery, and cigarette station away from the new deli, and giving the deli it’s own register for rushed lunch goers craving a fresh sandwich with hand cut meats and cheeses. Alongside the deli will be a wall dedicated to a selection of coffees and cappuccinos, an amenity highly requested in the area.
“Everything will be brand new, down to more energy efficient lighting that will save a substantial amount of money for the store. It’s an investment in downtown, and I still believe; We’re still surviving,” explains Brotherton, “When I was growing up in the 60’s, we lived on Cedar Street and walked across the Laurel Street Bridge and walked up and down the hill where people traveling on foot to The Pantry Shelf still walk (and sometimes fall) today.” Brotherton is adding a set of commercial grade stairs down the hill, as well as a new sidewalk and railing.
Another issue to tackle was parking and traffic flow. Oftentimes, delivery trucks would have to park in the middle of the street in front of the building, making for a dangerous entry and exit with regards to oncoming traffic. Part of the renovations include moving the dumpsters, and creating a space for delivery trucks to park, as well as two new parking spaces.
The rennovations will not only benefit the long-time employees, two of which have served The Pantry Shelf for more than 30 years, but will also create job opportunities for new employees, adding one position per shift.
Brotherton says this the first time The Pantry Shelf will have to close it’s doors for a few days, but hopes not too many, for they are open in the worst of weather coniditions, and the community depends on them to meet their needs during severe weather. Brotherton is avid about keeping business local, and feeding money right back into our own town, whose economy has taken a hard hit since coal mining industries have suffered.
Erin Joseph can be reached at 606-436-5771 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.