Bojangles' to open in Duluth
Charlotte, N.C. based Bojangles' plans to open a new restaurant in Duluth later this year. The "new" restaurant will open in place of a onetime Burger King restaurant at 3625 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, just south of Pleasant Hill Road. The restaurant is located across the street from a former Donatos Pizza turned Duluth Diner.
The Burger King opened in 2001 but has reportedly been vacant since late 2015. Plans call for the existing roughly 4,000 square foot building to be "deconstructed" and rebuilt as a Bojangles'. The former Burger King featured a kids play area (since removed) that makes the building larger than a typical Bojangles'.
I contacted a Bojangles' PR representative in Charlotte who was unable to confirm an expected opening timeline but did confirm the restaurant will be a corporate location. Bojangles' unveiled a new prototype earlier this month in Greenville, S.C. which features a "Biscuit Theater" that showcases fresh biscuits being made every 20 minutes among other additions. The new restaurant also offers guests free Wi-Fi and promotes the brand's proud history. The Duluth restaurant is likely to incorporate at least some of the new design elements.
Bojangles' was started by business partners Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas in 1977. The duo grew the company to 350 locations before both stepping down in 1985. Fulk continued to be involved in the company as a franchisee. Thomas however fled fast food for healthier fare and opened R. Thomas Deluxe Grill in Atlanta in 1985. Fulk died in 2011 at the age of 78, and Thomas died yesterday at the age of 82.
Bojangles' hired industry veteran Clifton Rutledge as the company's new CEO in early 2014. The following year the company went public (NASDAQ: BOJA) after which The Charlotte Observer interviewed Rutledge about the company's growth plans.
“One store by itself in a city the size of St. Louis or Dallas ... is going to get lost, and that’s why Atlanta has been so successful. That’s our largest growth market this year,” Rutledge says, adding that Atlanta is the “poster child” of what it looks like to grow into adjacent markets.
The greater metro Atlanta area has seen tremendous growth since I wrote about the chain's glaring absence from metro Atlanta in 2012. Over the past year or so, new Bojangles' restaurants have recently opened in Cumming, Doraville, Kennesaw and Marietta, among other cities with new locations planned for Fayetteville and eventually, Chamblee. The Chamblee restaurant, planned for the intersection of Clairmont Road and Buford Highway, is reportedly still happening but is not expected to open until late this year.
Today, the company has over 700 locations.
Are you excited for the opening of Bojangles' in Duluth? Are you eagerly awaiting the opening of Bojangles' in Chamblee like I am? Do you think R. Thomas will be able to maintain its popularity following the passing of Mr. Thomas?
Please share your thoughts below.