Greer Companies, a major Lexington-based franchisee of the casual restaurant chain Cheddar's, plans to open its first original restaurant concept at Idle Hour Shopping Center later this year.
The company has begun demolishing the former Walgreens store at Richmond Road and St. Margaret Drive that has been vacant for the past few years since the pharmacy chain built a freestanding store a block away.
"We have always wanted to do our own thing," company president Lee Greer said. "This new concept is years in the making from Dad and me traveling around the country and picking up bits and pieces of things we love and like."
The restaurant aims to appeal across all generations. One of the highlights will be a unique building about which more details will be revealed in the coming months, Greer said.
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"The building is going to be outrageous for this part of the world," he said. "But at the end of the day, it's going to be about the food."
Greer declined to discuss the food in detail but said it will feature "favorites from different parts of the world."
"The idea is exceptional food for a surprisingly great price," he said. "There will be very large portions in an unbelievable atmosphere."
The restaurant will be unique in Lexington, and the concept "probably makes sense in bigger cities right out of the gate," he said. "But we want to fine-tune it ourselves, and it's somewhat like us giving back to Lexington. We think it'll be a very special thing."
The company is tearing down the Walgreens building and building a new wall for the Family Dollar that adjoined the former Walgreens space, Greer said.
The restaurant will be freestanding, and construction should begin as early as the end of March or April, he said. The goal is to have construction finished by August or September and for the restaurant to open in October.
It's the first original restaurant venture for Greer Companies, a commercial real estate firm that's a franchisee of restaurants and hotels. The company is run by Lee Greer's father, Phil, who is chief executive.
The company owns 26 Cheddar's locations in Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia. Lee Greer said they plan to soon open a Cheddar's location in Ohio.
Before operating Cheddar's, the company franchised Shoney's and Fazoli's restaurants, but it's no longer with either chain. Greer Companies also franchised Bearno's Pizza for a time in Lexington, and other concepts.
"This is the first one we will fully control from the start," Greer said. "There's that old saying about nine out of 10 restaurants tend to fail in their first three years.
"Dad's got a funny saying about that. He says unfortunately, we found the other nine first."