If you’ve been wondering what’s going on at construction sites and vacant lots around town, you’re not alone — especially when it comes to wondering whether you’ll find a new place to whet your appetite.
If projects go according to plans, chain restaurants Panera and Golden Corral will move into two locations – but the construction at South Main Street and Veterans Parkway offers another oral fix.
If the property’s new owner is successful, life will soon rise at the former Shoney’s in Flemington. The building has been vacant for two years.
Listing agent Jimmy Shanken confirmed Tuesday that the former Shoney’s will become a Panera Bread, which will be developed by Hilton Head franchisee Rich Connolly Sr. Connolly closed on the property June 29.
“We want people to know now that the deal is finalized and that we will be working toward construction and opening a café in the area very soon,” Panera regional marketing manager Amanda Saxon said Thursday.
Connolly said he owns 13 Panera restaurants in Augusta, Savannah, Charleston, Hilton Head and Columbia and hopes to open the St. Louis, Mo.-based cafe here by the end of the year.
Panera is known for its breads and baked goods, but it also has a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches.
Connolly said workers will be on-site almost immediately cleaning, but renovation plans are underway and will require permits.
“We hope to be under construction within 60 days, and we hope to be selling bread by the end of year,” Connolly said.
The Shoney’s closed in April 2010, and a corporate spokesman said at the time that the close would last temporarily until the restaurant was renovated. Its doors have remained closed since.
If soups and sandwiches aren’t filling enough, diners may be able to belly up to a breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet instead.
Businessman Rajan “Rock” Patel said a Golden Corral is in the works for the site on Highway 84 between the now-closed China Restaurant and the Car Wash Express.
“We are going to do closing sometime this weekend,” he said Wednesday about purchasing two acres from San Patel.
Rock Patel said his contactors tell him the project should take about four months to complete. He anticipates being in the restaurant before December.
The Hinesville City Council in February approved the buffet chain’s site plan for 741 E. Oglethorpe Highway, and workers were doing site preparations in the last couple of weeks.
A Golden Corral corporate newsletter released April 21, 2011 announced that the buffet chain welcomed new franchisees Kanti Patel, Rajan “Rock” Patel, Mike Dolan, Atul Patel, Shefali Patel, Sushila Patel, and Lisette Vila.
The announcement said the group received a development agreement “to open by June 2012.”
In the statement, the company’s senior vice-president of franchise sales Larry Tate Sr. said that Rock Patel and Mike Dolan would work as full-time general and associate managers at the Hinesville location.
According to previous Courier reports, Dolan owned the now-closed Italiano’s on Highway 196.
Golden Corral will have between 60 and 70 people on staff, including four managers who are already being trained in Raleigh, N.C., Patel said.
Patel also runs the Best Western and two gas stations, the Save-a-Ton on Highway 196 and the Citgo just outside the Main Gate to Fort Stewart.
Construction is also ongoing at the northwest corner of South Main Street and Veterans Parkway in Hinesville. Advent Dental PC, which currently has a West Street office, plans to move there by Oct. 1, according to project manager Anthony Phillips with Parker-Phillips Construction.
Phillips, husband to Advent Dental founder Dr. Donna Phillips, said the 4,300-square-foot office should open with three hygienists, two dentists and an endodontist.
“This project has been many years in the making; we opened our office in Hinesville in March of ’97,” he said.
The practice serves infants through seniors and recently launched a community care plan to provide services for those who cannot afford dental coverage.
“We started the plan 30 days ago, and we’re currently between 125 and 130; our goal is to hit 1,000,” he said.
Once enrollment hits that number, the plan will be closed to new members.
As part of the plan, individual patients will pay $25 a month for two regular cleanings, and the dentist will develop a treatment plan where procedures are covered by another $10 per month, Phillips said.
For more information about the plan, contact Advent Dental at 876-3200.