Restaurant Chain Begins Process For Athens Location

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A representative of Texas Roadhouse met with city officials on Thursday to discuss the company's plans for opening a restaurant in Athens.

Last month, a Texas Roadhouse spokesman told The Messenger that the company had found a site in Athens and plans to open a restaurant in June of 2014. The location is in front of Tractor Supply on East State Street, according to the spokesman, which would put it in the parking lot of the Market on State.

Tom Parfitt, co-owner of the Market on State, said Wednesday that a lease had not yet been signed.

After the meeting Thursday with a site development coordinator for Texas Roadhouse, Athens Code Director John Paszke said he expects that Texas Roadhouse will have an introductory meeting July 18 with the Athens Planning Commission.

Paszke said the company has not yet submitted a preliminary site plan. Once that happens, the process calls for the plan to be reviewed by Paszke, City Planner Paul Logue, Public Works Director Andy Stone, Police Chief Tom Pyle and Fire Chief Robert Troxel. The company would then be told of any additional information or revisions needed, and then the plans would go before the planning commission for final approval.

Paszke said a state building permit also would be needed.

Putting a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in the parking lot could impact the Athens Farmers Market, which is held on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the parking lot.

Larry Cowdery, president of the farmers market board, said there has not been any detailed discussion of what might happen with the market, since the Texas Roadhouse restaurant is not a done deal.

He said it might be possible for the farmers market and the restaurant to co-exist at the Market on State, but that is unknown at this point. As for the potential of finding another location for the farmers market, Cowdery noted that there are not a lot of large, vacant spaces in Athens.

"It takes a pretty big site," he said.