I first announced that Watkinsville, Georgia-based Zaxby's would open a new location on Peachtree Boulevard in the outparcel of the Lowe's Home Improvement in 2010. Late last year, construction finally started, but shortly after the new year, construction abruptly stopped. I started to wonder when the restaurant would open, as it seemed to have been abandoned. The Zaxby's "PacesetterConstruction" sign remained out front and a few weeks back, a Fidelity Bank sign emerged out front as well.
Though I reached out to my contacts in the area, in real estate and at Zaxby's corporate, I got different stories from each and no one seemed to be on the same page.
Zaxby's franchising tells me that the "small local bank" the franchisee was working with went under and that the franchisee is in the midst of securing new financing to complete construction. Oddly, Fidelity Bank's is the only financing sign I've ever seen displayed around the site, and I know for a fact that Fidelity has not gone under. Not only that, Fidelity has been lauded for their shrewd banking and their unwillingness to be involved in risky loans, something many industry critics attribute to their solid foundation.
Georgia has been a country-wide leader in bank failures with over twenty last year and already three this year, so it is possible that their was an earlier bank financing the construction, but if Fidelity is in fact a second finance partner, why has construction not been completed?
Other sources tell me that the franchisee was undercapitalized and that is the reason for the delay. My source also indicated there may be other Zaxby's franchisees interested in taking over the partially built site and completing it. Zaxby's corporate informed me that as long as their construction signage is still displayed outside, they still intend to see the restaurant open though they were unable to provide any completion timeline.
Just before announcing the opening of this Zaxby's, I announced one would open in place of a former car wash on Roswell Road. This past summer, that location opened and is doing well by all indications. Also late last year, I announced a new location was being built on Lawrenceville Highway near North DeKalb Mall. Though slow at first, this location is now well underway and should be open before summer.
Zaxby's opened their first location in Statesboro near Georgia Southern in 1990, and today the chain has over 500 locations across 13 states.
Area Update : Pure Taqueria had been in on and off talks to build a restaurant on the parcel of land currently home to a vacant Buddy's convenience store (corner of Johnson Ferry and Peachtree Boulevard) but I'm told those plans are off the table indefinitely. Pure remains interested in the area, but that space simply didn't work out.
What are your thoughts on all this? Do you recall seeing another bank sign displayed? Do you live in the area and have news on when or if the restaurant will be completed? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.