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Getting an update

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By Jenna Duncan

Businesses and buildings renovating alongside new construction

Not all of the new construction around Denton is starting from the ground up, as major restaurants and retailers are updating their existing locations.

In just 60 hours, the Applebee’s on Teasley Lane by Interstate 35E had a complete internal and external renovation to update the restaurant, said Kerry Norton, regional director of operations for the restaurant chain.

“Our brand is over 30 years old, and every now and then we need to reinvent and make sure we’re contemporary and relevant to today’s customer,” Norton said. “We’ve been here for 23 years, and we wanted to make sure we made an appropriate investment so we can be here another 23 years.”

The interior is completely updated from the flooring to tables to walls, Norton said. Outside, there is a new awning, lighting and signage.

The work started last Sunday and was completed Tuesday. The Denton restaurant was the 25th location in the area to undergo this type of renovation this year, Norton said.

While the work was completed by construction crews, Applebee’s employees were put through more training in the classroom and on the floor to improve their service as well, Norton said.

“This is one of those very unique opportunities to put your business on hold for a very short amount of time and improve the facilities and service,” he said.

Down the street at Golden Triangle Mall, J.C. Penney is also digging into renovations, though the project is more gradual.

Company officials wanted to update the department store’s look, especially with the recently completed renovations of the mall. New interiors will feature new carpet, paint and tile, and a better use of floor space, said Joey Thomas of J.C. Penney media relations.

“All of those factors are really going to enhance the customer experience,” he said. “We’re also upgrading the fine jewelry department, which will be in a prominent location in the store near the mall entrance, so it will get great visibility.”

The store is also adding a Sephora makeup store inside that will open Aug. 29, a few weeks before the full renovation is complete. The Sephora location will take up 2,200 square feet and will have close to 50 brands.

At the mall, plans also are underway for a renovation of Dillard’s, though a timeline for the project has not been set.

Other local businesses are expanding instead of renovating, like Viet Bites. Currently located at 702 S. Elm St., Viet Bites will open a new location in one of the new storefronts at Welch Street and West Hickory Street near the University of North Texas campus, said co-owner Victoria Nguyen.

“We wanted to reach a different audience, and we get a lot of requests from students since we’re so far from there,” she said.

The restaurant will offer fast-casual service, where orders will be prepared in front of the customer and shouldn’t take more than two minutes, Nguyen said. The new Viet Bites location is set to open in about a month and a half.

Older buildings are also getting facelifts before new business moves in. Hoochie’s Oyster House is moving to 214 E. Hickory St., where crews are working on a distressed-brick exterior and refinishing the interior.

On the other side of the Square on Hickory Street, Hypnotic Donuts has started major renovations to the old Denton Radio Center building, said Greg Johnson, CEO and managing partner of Verus Real Estate Advisors.

Johnson, whose company is currently overseeing the renovation before handing it over to Hypnotic, said the interior has been gutted and the floor was dropped two feet so crews could redo the utilities. The doughnut shop is set to open in August, and will take over the interior renovations soon, Johnson said.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.