Local restauranteers Jeremy and Natalie Roberts, owners of 903 Brewers in Sherman, have taken a liking to the former Payless ShoeSource building located on Texoma Parkway in Sherman. The couple have plans to turn the location into a pizzeria.


As one of the first steps in the process, an incentive agreement was approved Monday through the Sherman City Council who have decided to enter into an economic development agreement for the redevelopment of the building as a restaurant.


The incentive agreement was requested by the Roberts who plan to model the restaurant after the style of Chipotle and Subway.


“So, for about $10 you will be able to build your own pizza,” Jeremy Roberts said Monday. “You will be able to walk in, turn in a piece of paper and then sit down and enjoy a beer while we cook your pizza.”


The idea for the pizzeria has been a long-term project for the Roberts and dates back almost as long as the brewery itself. However, it was only recently that an ideal location presented itself in the form of the former shoe store, Jeremy Roberts said.


The Payless retail chain announced in early 2017 that it planned to close 400 stores, including both stores in Sherman, as a part amid bankruptcy proceedings. The building has remained vacant since the closure.


Roberts said he learned that the owners of the adjacent Texoma Tobacco planned to build a small retail strip center next door and felt the former shoe store showed promise for redevelopment.


Early plans for the project call for patrons to be able to walk in, select what they want on their pizza from a list on a sheet of paper and simply hand it to a cashier. The restaurant will start out primarily focusing on dine-in and take-out orders, but Roberts said that delivery could be possible if the concept proves popular.


The pizzeria will also offer all 903 Brewery beers on tap, but Roberts said the two businesses will be distinct and separate from one another.


The incentive agreement with Roberts was made possible through the city’s retail recruitment program, which was approved by the council in March. The incentive will allow Roberts to collect a cash rebate of 50 percent of sales tax receipts from the restaurant over the course of two years. However, the restaurant must remain in operation for at least five years or the owners will be required to repay the city.


This marks the second incentive offered under the program following the announcement of plans by Bobcat to open a heavy equipment storefront in the former Haverty’s storefront — less than two miles away on the same road.


Roberts said the program seems aimed at bringing in larger retailers into the market, but he feels it offers opportunities to smaller businesses, like his own. Unlike the larger chain businesses, Roberts said the sales generated would remain in the local market.


Documents for Monday’s meeting indicate that the business is expected to employ 10 full- and part-time employees, but Roberts said it could be as high as 40 to 50 depending on how fast business picks up. The documents also listed about $250,000 in inventory expected for the property.


Sherman City Manager Robby Hefton voiced his approval of the agreement as it helped incentivize the reuse of a property that would otherwise go empty and generate no use for the city.


“The intent of the entire program is to develop retail in Sherman, which is a major contributor to our revenue source,” he said. “This project is of particular interest to me because it puts back into use a building that has been empty for years. Number 2, Texoma Parkway is desirable to me because we tend to have more vacancies and turnover on Texoma than other parts of town.”


What do you think about the plans for the former Payless building? Let local government reporter Michael Hutchins know at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.