Local franchisee opens new Wendy's store on Bonny Oaks Drive

People eat in the dining room during the grand opening of the new Wendy's restaurant at 7408 Bonny Oaks Drive on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn.
People eat in the dining room during the grand opening of the new Wendy's restaurant at 7408 Bonny Oaks Drive on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Around noon Monday, customers flocked to the new Wendy's at the Interstate 75 end of Bonny Oaks Drive, and employees working the restaurant's state-of-the-art, double-sided kitchen equipment pieced together bacon double-stacks and grilled chicken sandwiches to send out the door.

Eight days ago, this eatery wasn't an option for locals hungry at the lunch hour.

The new, 3,400-square-foot restaurant opened softly last week but celebrated its grand opening on Monday. The store is owned by Springfield Investments LLC, out of Rome, Ga., and represents a roughly $2.4 million investment. The restaurant staffs around 40 full- and part-time employees.

Mohammed Abbasi, chief member at Springfield, oversees a total of 18 Wendy's locations, from ones in Chattanooga to ones up in Cleveland, Tenn., over to Rainsville, Ala., and down to Calhoun, Ga.

He was at the grand opening on Bonny Oaks Drive on Monday.

Abbasi got into franchising back in the mid-1980s, and, these days, sticks exclusively, to owning and operating Wendy's stores.

He is personally involved in the operations at Springfield and, for close to five years, has been working on landing a store near Exit 7 in Chattanooga. Abbasi and Springfield officials liked the lack of fast food options so near to major employers like Amazon.com and Volkswagen.

Thomas Bradford, vice president at Springfield, said while scouting the area years ago, it was clear driving around the Exit 9 area that something like a Wendy's - something quick, with a drive-thru and at a fast-food price point - could capitalize on the market.

"If you go there at lunchtime, you see people eating in their cars," said Bradford.

But Exit 9 was a little too underdeveloped to plop a restaurant down. So Springfield officials turned their focus down the road to Bonny Oaks Drive, off Exit 7.

At one time, Abbasi considered building his Wendy's on a piece of property behind the new Bonny Oaks Drive Speedway. Later, he considered building closer to the Interstate, but the utilities were going to be a problem.

Then, a family living in a house next to Silverdale Baptist put their property up for sale.

"They put it on the market at four in the afternoon, and at 4:15 [p.m.], I had the contract on it," said Abbasi.

After a little land swapping with Silverdale, the plan to build the Wendy's finally got a green light, and went into action.

The store sports the newest Wendy's exterior, with a two-story glass facade and outdoor patio seating. Abbasi wanted the store to be above Wendy's base requirements, to create a place locals will want to eat. As a result, there are two fireplaces, free Wi-Fi and a Wi-Fi bar. There are deep-cushioned booths and a flatscreen in the dining room.

"For Chattanooga, there's not another store in this area like this," said Abbasi.

He said Springfield Investments is always looking to expand its footprint and is searching for opportunities in Chattanooga and the greater-Chattanooga area.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

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