ROCKINGHAM —Fried chicken fans in Richmond County will have a new dining option when a Zaxby’s restaurant is built here this summer.
Crews broke ground Monday on the Zaxby’s eatery on U.S. 74 Business in front of the Aldi supermarket. Rockingham City Planner John Massey said during last week’s City Council planning retreat that the building would be operational in 90 days.
William Hayden, job superintendent for Zaxby’s contractor Dimension Construction Inc., plans on beating that three-month estimate.
“We can usually put one up in 85 days,” Hayden said of his company, which is the general contractor for the project. “We should have it up by the first of August.”
It was unclear Wednesday when the new Zaxby’s would open for business. A company spokesperson didn’t return phone calls in time for this story.
Massey said the building will be 3,847 square feet with a seating capacity of 90 people, and the site itself will provide 50 parking spaces including handicapped parking spots, which are required by law.
Hayden, who has helped build 660 stores across the United States including 10 Zaxby’s locations in North Carolina alone, so far has been impressed with the city of Rockingham. He said city planning staff has been an integral part of the process.
“This is a corporate store, but I would say they were very instrumental in getting it built and getting it built on time,” he said. “They’ve been very helpful. I’ve been very pleased with the inspection department here in Rockingham.”
Hayden said Zaxby’s is a company that conducts a lot of surveys, judging the potential locations and finding out if one of its restaurants would be both profitable and a good fit for the community.
Zaxby’s also completed a revenue study to find out how often people in Richmond County dine out, how much they spend and where they eat.
“When Zaxby’s come up with these locations, it’s because they did their homework,” Hayden said.
The site on U.S. 74 Business places Zaxby’s on Rockingham’s main drag — and in close proximity to Walmart Supercenter.
“Everybody always wants to be around Walmart,” said Hayden. “Historically, though, Zaxby’s haven’t necessarily been around Walmarts. Traffic patterns have more to do with it — if the site is on a major highway, how many cars go past. As everyone knows, Highway 74 is the main strip through Rockingham.”
Plans for a future U.S. 1 bypass that would cross U.S. 74 Business a half-mile from the Zaxby’s site also could have helped the company choose Rockingham, Hayden said.
“That’s definitely an impact,” he said. “They do check stuff like that. This land will be lucrative in probably five years.”
Hayden said the Rockingham location ties in with Zaxby’s planned expansion. Based in Athens, Georgia, the casual-dining chicken chain has more than 600 locations, mostly in the Southeast. Zaxby’s has begun migrating up the East Coast and into Texas and the Midwest.
“Before it’s all said and done, they’re looking to have them coast to coast,” said Hayden. “I have worked with Zaxby’s on several jobs now. It’s a tight-knit company, it’s a family company.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-997-3111, ext. 18.