News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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January 27, 2013

A New Place to Dine: Cheddar’s Casual Cafe to be built on former Sycamore Chevrolet site

TERRE HAUTE — A high-volume restaurant concept, expected to employ 200 workers, is headed to Vigo County late this year or in early 2014.

Greer Land Co. Restaurants LLC, part of Greer Companies based in Lexington, Ky., has received state and Vigo County building permits for a new Cheddar’s Casual Cafe. The permits are for an 8,692-square foot single-story building estimated to cost $350,000 to be located at 4424 S. U.S. 41.

The company plans to open a Cheddar’s in Bloomington — it’s 33rd store — on Feb. 18. Another Indiana restaurant is planned in Greenwood, to open about the same time a store opens in Terre Haute, said Lee Greer, president of Greer Companies.

“By the time the Terre Haute site is up, it will be our 40th or 41st Cheddar’s,” Greer said. Greer Land Co. Restaurants is the largest franchisee of Cheddar’s cafes, already operating restaurants in Clarksville, Avon and Evansville in Indiana.

“Terre Haute has been on our radar for a long time. Any time you have a county that is a regional hub, it is on our radar screen. It comes down to finding the right site,” Greer said.

“The negotiations take a while and in this deal, we had to wait for a dealership [Dorsett Automotive Group] to move as they had a short-term lease,” Greer said.

“The permitting has gone through and we will time it with our construction, as we try to do a lot of this in-house, construction wise,” Greer said. “It will be spring or summer before we get started. It takes probably six months from the time the footers are in the ground to when it opens,” Greer said.

Most all food items are under $13, mainly in the $6 to $9 range with big portions, Greer said of the Cheddar’s franchise.

The restaurant will be located on 2.53 acres of land that formerly housed Sycamore Chevrolet, near Sam’s Club. The Romain Automotive Group bought the site in May 2010 from Dennis Meng Realty Inc. for $3,775,750.

The Romain Automotive Group sold its Hyundia-Nissan dealership to Dorsett Automotive Group last year. The Romain group still operates Terre Haute Chevrolet.

The remaining 11 acres of the site is owned by ARB Commercial Real Estate, which has the same Evansville address as the Romain Automotive Group. The site is up for sale.

The new Cheddar’s building will have a patio area with 48 seats in an area of 1,862 square feet and a bar and lounge area with 75 seats. The entire restaurant will have 409 seats. The building will have 220 parking spaces, according to building permits.

“The outdoor patio has double-sided water fountains on a rock waterfall” and the restaurant will have a 500-gallon freshwater aquarium, Greer said.

“Cheddar’s and the Cheesecake Factory are among the highest volume restaurants in the country in terms of foot traffic. We have about 500,000 people per Cheddar’s store per year come through these restaurants,” Greer said.

The Terre Haute restaurant will have 200 employees, including at least six managers. “Most restaurants in the casual dinning sector like Texas Roadhouse or Olive Gardens have about 120 employees. We will have a lot more employees,” Greer said.

“We have the right concept, but still have to run it right. It is a hard concept to run as all food is made from scratch, so many employees and the building is so big, so all those factors that go into it. We have to stay on top of it,” Greer said.

In addition to Cheddar’s, Greer Companies is a real estate development company and operates Marriott and Hilton hotels. It also operates Coba Cocina, Cobar Canita and Mint Julep restaurants.

Greer said the company plans to launch its own business, a high-end Mexican/Latin food restaurant with a European confections bakery. The concept includes a two-story jelly fish aquarium, Greer said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

 

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