Cook Out plans July opening in Siler City

SILER CITY – There’s only one place people in North Carolina go where banana pudding and watermelon milkshakes are on the same menu, and that’s in Siler City.

Cook Out, a fast food chain with more than 200 locations in the Southeast, has purchased a 1.65 acre lot at 1513 E. 11th St. – across from Days Inn, and between Walgreens and Sonic Drive-In – and has a target opening date of July 13, 2023, according to the Triangle Business Journal, which first reported the news on October 26.

The property sold for $620,000, according to the deed filed Oct. 24, and was once a BP gas station. Excise tax on the deed is $1,240 – excise taxes are paid on all real estate transactions at a rate of $1 for every $500 sold, as per North Carolina law .

Jack Meadows, director of planning and community development for Siler City, said the county had preliminary discussions with Summey Engineering Associates, an Asheboro-based engineering firm, about a possible opening of Cook Out in city ​​in the spring of 2021.

“And that’s really all that happened was just answering questions about construction setbacks, the permitting process,” he said. “But no formal request was made, no request for a pre-development meeting, a new site plan or a request for a zoning permit for the project, so it was more about gathering information.”

The last time his department communicated with Summey about the new restaurant was in January, when the engineering firm said he had been put on hold with the project. Meadows said he didn’t hear any updates until TBJ reported the new ownership.

Cook Out CEO Jeremy Reaves did not respond to multiple messages at press time, but given the announced timing of the property’s expected opening, Meadows said he anticipates the city would want to start quickly the development and construction of the site and staff. is ready to process a formal request. The current property has been vacant for some time, Meadows said, but several utilities are already in place to properly service a new business.

“So one of the things that city staff and the city are excited about for these projects is the redevelopment of this site,” he said. “Now it can be put back into operation, as it has been unoccupied for some time. Redevelopment of vacant and underutilized sites is really good for us because road access is there, water and sewer infrastructure is in this area, electricity and all the infrastructure you need to start a business – it’s already there.

For some Chatham County residents, the news is welcome, and even unsurprising, Meadows said.

“I know the word has spread in the community,” Meadows said. “The community was very enthusiastic about the idea of ​​a Cook Out [coming to town].”

Similarly, Siler Town Mayor Chip Price has said for the past year that he has been fielding questions from townspeople about the status of a Cook Out that may be coming to the area.

“They [residents] were asking a long time ago,” Price said with a laugh. “They wanted a Cook Out.”

Siler City resident Wendy Black said she was happy to hear that Cook Out was on the way. Black, 54, said as a single mother, she often took her children to restaurants when they were growing up in Winston-Salem, where they could get combo plates at low prices.

Cook Out, which was founded in 1989 in Greensboro, is best known for its signature menu featuring over 40 milkshake flavors; the chain also serves grilled burgers, chicken sandwiches, Cajun fries, quesadillas and more.

Now that her kids are grown, Black is taking her five grandkids to Cook Out.

Black can’t wait to see more food options come to the county – the customer service rep said when she and her husband moved to Siler City from Pittsboro in 2019, they ‘blew up’ every restaurant in town in just a few months.

“I want this side of Chatham County to start growing and expanding,” Black said. “I mean, because they’re doing all of this in Pittsboro with Chatham Park, and since they put the chicken plant here, I’d like to see a lot more variations of restaurants — not just fast food, but also seating options. .”

Price said he thinks the new location will add more variety to other fast-food chains currently in town. Another benefit he hopes the Siler City restaurant will bring is greater appeal to young people, saying he has noticed that the Cook Out restaurant in Asheboro draws large crowds, especially after local sporting events.

“But we need something,” he said. “It’s nice to have something that young people want to participate in here in our city for a change.”

Meadows said he expects other businesses to continue to set up shop along the US Hwy. 64, a high-traffic freeway commercial corridor, as the county and Siler City evolve and new megasites come to the area.

Elijah Mears, digital brand manager for Express Lane Strategies, lives in Greensboro but driving to visit his and her husband’s parents in western Wake County, said he would bypass traffic on I-40 via US Hwy 421 and Hwy. 64 in Chatham. These drives led Mears to jokingly dub Chatham County a “Cook Out Desert”.

“And a lot of the time, just as we were leaving, we happened to be hungry while we were in Chatham County,” Mears said. “And so we had noticed that there was no Cook Out in Chatham, which is one of our favorite places to stop on the road.”

As someone interested in cartography and having taken GIS courses in college, Mears pulled locations from the channel’s website and created maps displaying all of the Cook Outs in North Carolina, including the “Cook Out Hole” gaping in Chatham. Mears posted the cards on Twitter in October 2020 because he thought others might be interested as well, and the tweet ended up reaching nearly 100 likes.

Although Mears and her husband no longer eat Cook Out as often as they used to, they still make the frequent drive through Chatham, he said.

“But once it’s open, I’m sure we’ll probably just stop on the premise of the matter,” Mears said.

Most Cook Outs are drive-in or only have walk-in windows, but newer locations — like the recently opened Chapel Hill Cook Out at 450 South Elliott Road — also have dinner seating. Meadows said he doesn’t yet know what the Siler City location will look like, but the property’s zoning district allows for outdoor dining and seating, as well as drive-thru.

Journalist Maydha Devarajan can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @maydhadevarajan.

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