The Wilson Times

Sunday, January 12, 2014 11:43 PM

Franchise owner details Zaxby's plans

By Rochelle Moore | Times Staff Writer

The franchise owner of Zaxby’s has been interested in the Wilson market for years, but it wasn’t until recently that he found a prime location along Raleigh Road Parkway.

Tom Little, the franchise owner of nine other Zaxby’s restaurants, made the decision after realizing there was one last property in Heritage Towne Centre that faced Raleigh Road Parkway. Visibility from one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares was a main selling point.

"It kind of prompted me to go ahead and pull the trigger,” Little said. "It’s right in the middle of the new growth.”

Little believes Zaxby’s restaurant in Wilson, estimated to open in June or July, may become his most popular destination.

"I’m excited,” Little said. "Very excited. It will do well. All my stores around Wilson do well. I really think it will be the best store I’ve got.

"The demographics in Wilson are perfect for what we sell. Wilson is a thriving community. You’ve got a lot of good stuff going on in Wilson.”

Little purchased franchise rights for the Wilson, Nash and Wayne county markets close to 10 years ago, which gives him the ability to be the only Zaxby’s franchise owner who can open a store in the three-county area. He wanted to open a Zaxby’s in Wilson in 2007 but hit a roadblock after a rezoning request was denied for a Raleigh Road Parkway property next to the Belle Meade subdivision.

Residents voiced concerns about the proximity of the restaurant to the neighborhood, and Little’s rezoning request was denied by the Wilson City Council. He’s continued to look at locations, but it wasn’t until he looked at the Towne Centre property, between Auto Zone and Kurtz Chiropractic Center, that he finalized his decision.

"I’ve looked at other sites around Wilson,” Little said. "I’ve looked up closer to the interstate. I just never had one to ever hit me.”

A site plan for a Zaxby’s restaurant, at 3019 Raleigh Road Parkway, is in the final review stages with the city’s planning department. Little plans to purchase the property and build a 4,139 square-foot restaurant on a 1.69-acre lot. The building will look like his recently opened Zaxby’s restaurant in Wake Forest, he said.

"This store will be identical to the one in Wake Forest,” Little said. "I think it’s a nice-looking building.”

He also owns Zaxby’s restaurants in Clayton, Smithfield, Goldsboro, Rocky Mount, Knightdale, north Raleigh, Durham and Garner and plans to build four more after Wilson.

Construction in Wilson is expected to start in March and should be finished in June. Little said he plans to hire local contractors to do as much of the work as possible.

"Hopefully, we would be able to start construction in early March,” he said. "Hopefully, we’ll be finished by the middle to the end of June.”

About 40 employees, including five managers, will be hired to work in Wilson. A potential general manager was being interviewed in Wilson on Friday. Applicants will be able to apply online or at the Wilson restaurant and all will be hired a month before the business opens.

Zaxby’s will be in the newly developed Heritage Towne Centre along Raleigh Road Parkway and next to the Heritage Crossing shopping center. The 17.45-acre center opened in 2012 with 16 commercial lots, which have so far been filled by Auto Zone and Golden Corral. | 265-7818

©The Wilson Times, Wilson, North Carolina.
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