ROCKINGHAM — Cookout, the burger and milkshake stop, opened Friday to a flood of eager Richmond County residents who had been waiting for a location to open in the city.
The location held a limited opening Thursday evening for about five hours around rush hour, the sight of smoke coming from the roof drawing a significant stream of customers then as well.
“It’s been nonstop since we opened up today,” said District Manager Travis Smith. “They’ve been waiting for this restaurant here for what, 15 years?”
Smith said the location on East Broad Avenue is as good as it gets in Rockingham. He said he expects the restaurant to keep up its current pace for at least the first two weeks.
“We’re right here in the middle of everything, we’re not gonna have too much traffic with the bypass now but you don’t have to go to Southern Pines or Laurinburg to eat Cookout now,” Smith said. “We finally got the hometown place.”
Cookout’s duel drive-thru lanes were stretched about 15 cars deep each Friday afternoon. Many of the customers said they were already long-time fans of the franchise, excited to finally have one close to home.
Rockingham resident Travis Byers was on his first visit to the location on Friday. Byers said like many other fans, he had to travel to Southern Pines and Laurinburg to eat at Cookout and was excited to finally have one in town.
“This is the best thing to happen here in Rockingham,” Byers said.
Marcus Taylor of Greensboro was already on his third visit to the location by 2:30 p.m. Taylor said he has tried everything on the menu, except for the milkshakes, of which there are 44 variations including the seasonal options.
“I’m gonna get there though,” he vowed.
Smith said that as district manager, it doesn’t take much to draw customers into the location — the name itself is enough to bring people in. Smith also manages Cookout locations in Laurinburg, Southern Pines, Sanford and in Bennettsville, South Carolina.
“We just got to put the store here and open it up,” Smith said. “We have to make sure everything goes right, customer service, food quality…we take a lot of pride in that. That’s basically it, take care of the customers, take care of the food, and take care of yourselves, that’s all there is to that.”
Alex Coulchard, another Rockingham resident, had just flown in from working out of town Thursday night and went over for a milkshake. He said that he would probably visit the location every time he’s in town, but his girlfriend will likely come a few times a week once the mob subsides.
“Ever since I heard it was coming here I’ve been excited,” Coulchard said. “It’s definitely a good thing — we’re moving up in the world.”
Cookout is open Sunday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. and on Friday and Saturday it stays open until 3:30 a.m. The restaurant only closes on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.