LUMBERTON — Motorists driving along North Roberts Avenue may have noticed that the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant that has been parked for years beside the railroad tracks is gone.
But fans of the Colonel’s chicken need not fear.
Demolition of the building began Tuesday, and the remaining rubble was being cleared away as of Thursday. A new KFC restaurant will be built on the same site.
“We’re taking it down and building a more beautiful building,” said Thomas Broome, president of Scottish Food Systems, Inc., which owns the franchise.
The goal is to reopen the KFC at 2000 N. Roberts Ave. in three months, he said.
The demolished restaurant is one of 27 KFC franchises the Laurinburg-based company manages in the Carolinas, Broome said. It was built in August 1973 and had been renovated at least 10 times since its doors first opened for business.
“Before my time,” Broome said.
The restaurant had about 25 full- and part-time employees, he said. None of them have lost their jobs.
“All of them were transferred to surrounding KFCs,” Broome said.
Some went to the franchise on West Second Street in Lumberton, he said. Others have been transferred to restaurants in neighboring towns.
Once open, the new restaurant will seat about 87 people, he said. It will employ about 50 people. The plan is to hire about 25 new full- and part-time employees to meet an anticipated increase in business.
The new facility will be built using the American Showman construction model, Broome said.
“It’s the new style that KFC came up with maybe a year or two years ago,” he said.
It features a more modern look, Broome said. The new facility will be outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment.
“It will be pristine,” he said.
The new building’s most important feature will be something customers won’t see upon entering the building, he said. The design and new equipment will foster a more efficient operation in which customers are served faster. The company knows this from operations at two restaurants built recently using the American Showman model.