Rutter’s looks to build third site

Rutter’s, which opened its first Blair County convenience store near Wye Switches in July and is planning to build another on Route 764 in Duncansville, hopes to open a third in Altoona by late summer.

The York-based chain has submitted plans to the city for a store at the former site of Kings Family Restaurant, where Sixth and Seventh avenues come together near Mansion Park, according

to city Community Development Director Lee Slusser.

The firm will demolish the former restaurant building and construct a 6,800-square-foot store against the Seventh Avenue side of the triangular lot, according to a site drawing. There will be five gas pumps parallel to 30th Street.

The project will likely come before the city Planning Commission for land development approval in April or May at the latest, Slusser predicted.

Rutter’s has submitted a traffic impact study, which a transportation engineering consultant will review for the city, Slusser said.

The store will likely generate more traffic than the restaurant, he said.

The study is important to ensure against disruption of the nearby Columbia Park residential neighborhood, Slusser said.

The lot is in a neighborhood business zone, Slusser said.

It’s unlikely Rutter’s will need to ask the Zoning Hearing Board for permission to build there, Slusser said.

The store will employ about 40, according to a letter from the company to the city.

Rutter’s, which currently has no stores in the counties contiguous to Blair, has 69 total — all in Pennsylvania, said Derek Gaskins, the company’s chief customer officer.

Until five years ago, the company was almost exclusively focused in the York County area, but since then has expanded to Lancaster, Berks, Dauphin and Franklin counties, as well as Blair, Gaskins said.

This summer, it plans to open its first out-of-state stores — one in Walkersville, Md., and one in Martinsburg, W.Va., he said.

“We’re in a major growth mode,” he said.

Coming to Blair County is not about starting competition with Sheetz, as that Altoona firm has been in Rutter’s home territory for 20 years, Gaskins said.

Rather, “We go where the opportunities are,” he said. “We’re constantly looking for new areas and markets.”

The former Kings site has a good traffic count and is in a more densely populated area than the Duncansville store, Gaskins said.

It is one of 30 locations that have been in the company’s “queue,” he said.

“It takes years to pick a site,” he said.

The store will be similar to the one in Duncansville, Gaskins said.

“We lead with food,” he said.

The chain emphasizes quality ingredients and healthful options, he said.

Each Rutter’s is “a restaurant that happens to have a convenience store with it,” he said.