Jack’s to return to former Jacksonville location
by Paige Rentz
An empty downtown storefront is set to get a reboot, as Jack’s Family Restaurants plans to bring a new location to the city.

The Jacksonville Planning Commission approved plans Tuesday night to build a new Jack’s at 602 Pelham Road South, home of the former Donut Prince shop. Builders plan to demolish the current building and rebuild the newest space for the Birmingham-based fast-food chain.

“Jack’s is excited to be back in Jacksonville,” civil engineer Dale Bright told the Planning Commission Tuesday.

Bright, a representative of St. John & Associates of Cullman, said the plans include building an approximately 3,300-square- foot restaurant with about 82 seats.

“It’s the standard prototype” he said of the corporate store’s plan.

Jack’s Family Restaurants owns the majority of its stores, with the only franchise locations owned by Manna Enterprises in Oxford, which operates nine stores in the area, including two each in Oxford and Anniston.

Wayne Reaves, president and CEO of Manna, said he had been considering expanding to Jacksonville for some time but hadn’t moved to do so due to the state of the economy and the availability of property.

The site to be leased for the corporate store is no stranger to fast food. Before the Donut Prince opened in 2009, the site had served as the home of a Taco Bell, and decades earlier, another Jack’s restaurant.

Attempts to reach representatives at the corporate headquarters of Jack’s Family Restaurants were unsuccessful as of press time.

Joe Grimes, an account executive with the Small Business Development Center at Jacksonville State University, is also a former franchise owner of two Firehouse Subs locations. He said most owners consider four main factors when looking to open a new business such as this … demographics, the actual building site, the accessibility of the location and competition.

“I would probably say there’s room for them,” he said. “They’ve got a good product, at least in my opinion.”

Grimes said he thinks the university helps make Jacksonville attractive for new businesses. “The school makes the population bigger; there are more discretionary dollars in town,” he said.

Mayor Johnny Smith said he is glad to see another new business coming to town.

“I’m really excited Jack’s is coming back to town,” he said.

Smith said he thinks a new Jack’s downtown could keep some money in town that might otherwise have gone out for biscuits.

“I know people who drive down to Lenlock for breakfast, particularly on weekends,” he said. “We need to keep that business in town.”

Mike Bailey, general contractor for the project, said he hopes to finish demolition of the current building by the end of the year and begin construction of the new restaurant in early January.

Star Staff Writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.
© 2012