Zaxby’s could open on Oak Ridge Turnpike in February

Zaxby's Oak Ridge Turnpike

Volunteer Excavating of Maryville clears a one-acre lot at Oak Ridge Turnpike and Division Road for a new Zaxby’s chicken restaurant that could open in mid-February.

A Zaxby’s chicken restaurant could open on Oak Ridge Turnpike in February, one of the owners said Friday.

The new 3,500-square-foot store will be on about one acre that used to be a car lot at the corner of Division Road and Oak Ridge Turnpike.

The site has been cleared already, and building construction could start this week, said Chris Andrews of Knoxville, who will co-own the restaurant with Brandon Barrett of Athens, Ga. But the construction schedule will depend upon the weather, Andrews said.

He said Zaxby’s specializes in chicken fingers and chicken wings and is also known for its chicken and buffalo salads. It’s a step above fast food, Andrews said, but the higher-quality food is still served quickly.

It will feature sit-down dining and a drive-through and be open from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Andrews said.

Zaxby’s restaurants typically have a crew of about 50 workers, and the search for a general manager could start in the next week or so.

Zaxby’s is one of three new completed or proposed chicken restaurants in Oak Ridge. Popeyes recently replaced Wishbones on South Illinois Avenue south of Oak Ridge Turnpike, and a Bojangles’ has been proposed next to the former Dean Stallings Ford on South Illinois Avenue.

A site plan has been approved for Bojangles, but a building permit hasn’t been issued yet, said Monica Austin Carroll, Oak Ridge Community Development division manager.

Zaxby’s will be in a high-traffic area bustling with commercial activity as well as the Methodist Medical Center. Andrews said he expects lunches, in particular, to be busy. The traffic light at Division Road and the Turnpike will help make it easier for cars to get in and out of Zaxby’s, he said.

Andrews said he and Barrett also own two other Zaxby’s stores, one in Lenoir City and another in Maryville. This will be their third in East Tennessee.

He said Zaxby’s, which is based in Athens, Ga., is gaining a foothold in East Tennessee, and Oak Ridge was targeted as “ready for the brand.”

“Oak Ridge is still growing,” Andrews said. “There’s a lot of jobs. It’s still a thriving community.”

He said there are Oak Ridge residents who now drive to Lenoir City and Clinton to eat at Zaxby’s. They won’t have to any more.

Zaxby’s was founded in 1990 and now operates more than 560 stores in 13 states, including Tennessee.