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Cheddar’s restaurant aims for Elizabethtown

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Franchisee hopes for summer opening

By Marty Finley

mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com
An expanding restaurant chain is planning to anchor a new location in Elizabethtown by summer 2011.
Cheddar’s Casual Café will be locating near Kohl’s at 3400 North Dixie Ave. if Elizabethtown approves the development plan for the restaurant, which offers freshly made food options ranging from salads and burgers to steak and ribs.
Lexington-based franchisee Greer Companies has presented the plan to the city and hopes to establish the restaurant after years of targeting Elizabethtown as a market of interest, President Lee Greer said. The Elizabethtown Planning Commission is scheduled to review the plan tonight during a called meeting.
Greer said he hopes to have a permit for the restaurant by December so his company can close on the land and move toward a construction date in January. Barring weather delays, the restaurant should be opened by late May or early June, Greer said.
“I would be really disappointed if it wasn’t ready by June,” he said.
The company also is waiting on the approval of an easement agreement with Kohl’s. Talks with the department store have been favorable, Greer said, as the restaurant would not obstruct the view corridor of Kohl’s. But he said he has yet to receive official documentation from the store cementing the agreement.
“Hopefully, we’re making some progress,” he said.
The company also manages hotel franchises but focuses primarily on the Cheddar’s brand, already establishing eight locations in Kentucky, Greer said. In addition to multiple locations in Lexington and Louisville, Cheddar’s restaurants can be found in Ashland, Bowling Green, Florence and Owensboro, according to the restaurant’s website.
If the Elizabethtown location is approved, it will be the 22nd Cheddar’s franchise established by Greer Companies, with the 20th and 21st locations set to open in Tennessee by January, Greer said.
It also would bring several new jobs to the city. Greer described Cheddar’s as a “monster” franchise that employs an average of 150 people per location. He estimated it would be the largest restaurant in the city once built and carve out its own niche, serving high-quality food at affordable prices.
“I really don’t think we have any competition for what we do,” he said.
Greer said Elizabethtown has been considered for years and members of his staff have conducted meticulous research, visiting the city multiple times.
The city’s size made it attractive, he continued, as did the proximity to Fort Knox and the willingness of customers from surrounding cities and counties to dine out in Elizabethtown.
Greer also said the traffic volume and success of already established restaurants added to Elizabethtown’s appeal.
“It’s a good market for (us),” he said.
Cheddar’s, if approved, would join a Frisch’s Big Boy as new restaurants to open near Kohl’s. Frisch’s opened in October.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.