Andy Kuntz, president of Andy's Frozen Custard, moved his company's corporate offices Oct. 27 to a 3,500-square-foot space on South Campbell Avenue.
Andy Kuntz, president of Andy's Frozen Custard, moved his company's corporate offices Oct. 27 to a 3,500-square-foot space on South Campbell Avenue.
To the chagrin of frozen custard fans, frequent sightings of Andy's Frozen Custard President Andy Kuntz on the streets of downtown Springfield do not mean a downtown retail location is in the works. The Kuntz sightings signal a move of the custard franchise's corporate offices.

Andy's Frozen Custard, a nearly five-year tenant of Hamra Plaza on South Ingram Mill Road, set up shop Oct. 27 at 440 S. Campbell Ave. The company is leasing the 3,500-square-foot space for an undisclosed amount with an option to buy. According to Greene County Assessor's office records, the property is owned by the Mark Craig Ward Trust. Estimated costs for renovating the space were $60,000, according to a city building permit.

Kuntz said the move gives the custard franchise's corporate arm room to grow.

Andy's Frozen Custard's headquarters employs five people, and Kuntz said he expects to hire another two - a controller and an assistant office manager - within the next year. Andy's 13 stores employ about 250, and 100 of them are corporate employees, said Eric Reed, Andy's director of field operations.

The company has 13 stores, and six of them are corporate-owned. The latest franchise store opened in May in Fayetteville, Ark., while the most recent corporate store opened on South Campbell Avenue in fall 2008. Without disclosing revenues, Kuntz said he expects every store but one to report 2009 sales gains.

Kuntz said he hopes by summer to add two corporate stores in the Chicago area - where a corporate store already operates in Bolingbrook, Ill. Kuntz said Chicago's Midwestern feel was partially behind the reason to add stores in the area.

"I think it's a great market. It's still that Midwestern town that loves a cold beer, a hot dog and a baseball game," he said. "Our product fits with that."

He also said entering the Chicago market was a long-term strategy to boost Andy's exposure.

Sam Hamra, owner of Hamra Enterprises and Hamra Plaza, said a small portion of Andy's Frozen Custard's 1,245-square-foot space has been leased by Baron Design & Associates LLC, an architectural firm in the adjacent office space. The remaining 1,000 square feet is available for lease at $19.50 per square foot, Hamra said.

Ownership rights

Landlord and attorney Hamra said the current real estate market and affordable prices are attractive to renters who are looking to own property.

For Deborah Malkmus, owner of Malkmus Law Firm LLC with her husband, Brian, the ability to own office space was a key reason behind the firm's purchase of 305 Park Central West. The firm leases 5,600 square feet in the Great Southern Building, 430 South Ave.

The building on the west side of the square - formerly owned by the Ozark Empire Fleet Reserve Association - will be renovated into a 7,200-square-foot law office. Malkmus expects the construction bid process to begin by mid-December. She declined to disclose the purchase price but said the renovations are expected to be between $500,000 and $600,000.

In the five years since the trial law firm was founded, it has added two attorneys and eight support staff, including a recently hired legal assistant. There are now five attorneys on board.

While Malkmus said she doesn't expect to hire any employees this year, there will be room for new hires when the time comes. When renovations are complete, the firm will be spread across three levels, including a mezzanine office for the owners, who are both attorneys.

Deborah Malkmus said a downtown location is important.

"We love being downtown. In fact, when we let employees know we were searching for a building to purchase, many actually came to us and requested we stay downtown," she said.

Malkmus points to having copy and architectural services as well as the courthouses within walking distance as a key benefit to operating downtown.

Next generation workers

The Malkmus and Andy's projects aren't the only downtown office changes.

Architect Matthew Hufft, who's working on a renovation at 338 Boonville Ave., said a downtown location may help to encourage camaraderie among co-workers, because walking to a restaurant or coffee shop tends to become a group activity.

Hufft's company, Kansas City-based Hufft Projects LLC, designed the 8,000-square-foot building for a private group - led by cousins Rick and David McQueary and Rick's sons, Billy and John McQueary. The general contractor on the job is Missouri Supermarket Builders. Hufft said the project should be finished in January. Estimated construction costs are $500,000, according to a city building permit.

The building's owners will occupy approximately 4,000 square feet on the east side of the building, and the remaining space will be leased as office or retail, said Hufft, who thinks downtown offices can attract a younger workforce.

"Young professionals enjoy living downtown, they'd certainly enjoy working there, too," he said.