At a meeting last August, when the Troutman Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the site plan for a new Bojangles eat-in/drive-through restaurant, Mayor Pro-tem Mike Spath said never had so many people come to him happy that a specific restaurant was coming to town.
Troutman, a little town between Mooresville and Statesville, continues to show signs of growth. The opening of a Bojangles this summer will add to that.
The new restaurant will be on the west side of U.S. 21 just south of the Interstate 77 interchange at Exit 42. The 3,800-square-foot eatery will be the first development in the Troutman Towne Center, located across from Lowe's Home Improvement Center. Both McDonald's and Wendy's are nearby, but that didn't seem to deter Bojangles' interest.
"We have been looking at Troutman as a market for a number of years," said Eric Newman, executive vice president of Bojangles. "We believe it to be the perfect North Carolina market for us, and it is one of the few towns in the state that doesn't already have at least one Bojangles."
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Bojangles operates 513 restaurants in 10 Southeastern states, the District of Columbia and Central America. At its current growth pace, the company opens a new restaurant every nine days, according to the company.
The final regulatory step was the town Board of Adjustment's unanimous approval Jan. 31 of a variance from zoning for the restaurant's drive-through menu sign.
The town's Unified Development Ordinance prohibits menu signs from facing main roads, but Claude Clark, Bojangles' director of engineering and construction, successfully argued that moving the menu sign to the back of the building would "play havoc with the design of this facility."
With the variance granted, site preparation crews have begun to clear the land, located just south of the Hess truck stop at Exit 42. The design will be similar to most of the Bojangles restaurants that have ebeen built in the past five years, Newman said.
One town board member and longtime Troutman resident said residents are eagerly awaiting the Bojangles' arrival in their town.
"Everyone I've talked to is very excited about it," said Betty Jean Troutman, a member of the town board who has lived in Troutman for almost 70 years. "They're all waiting for the 'Bojangles is open' sign to go up."
Newman said the project will cost Bojangles about $1.65 million. The restaurant's normal operating hours will be 5 a.m.-10 p.m., with some extended hours on the weekends.
Getting to this point hasn't exactly been a slam dunk.
Bojangles was originally envisioned as one of about a dozen stores in the new Troutman Towne Center, which at one time was seeking a major anchor such as Walmart.
As the impact of the recession hit Troutman, however, plans for the center were reduced from a major subdivision with about a dozen individual parcels for development to a minor subdivision with four parcels. Bojangles will be located on one of the four, the one the company has been looking to purchase from the beginning.
Town officials worked closely with Bojangles to keep the project moving through the changes in the size of the Towne Center, and company officers had nothing but praise for the Troutman town staff.
"They have been very supportive of the project, and both helpful and responsive to questions as we have gone through the necessary planning and approvals," said Newman.