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The former Hixson Pike location of Ryan's Steakhouse is seen Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The 11,000-square-foot restaurant was bought by Bill Raines for $1.5 million to be leased to a new business set to open in April.

New life will be breathed this spring into the vacant Ryan's steakhouse in Hixson that closed abruptly in February 2016 as part of a bankruptcy filing by the all-you-can-eat restaurant chain's parent company.

Chattanooga real estate investor Bill Raines, president of the Raines Group, bought the 11,000-square-foot former budget steakhouse at 5104 Hixson Pike in late December for $1.5 million, according to the Hamilton County Register of Deeds Office.

Raines will lease the building to a new operation that should open in April.

"We do have a user lined up," said Raines who declined to say whether the tenant is a new restaurant — or some other type of business.

"They've asked me to not make any announcements, yet, so I need to hold off a little bit," he said. "I'd like to just say 'tenant.'"

Raines bought the Hixson restaurant building from the trust department of The Community Bank of Raymore, Mo., near Kansas City, which paid $3,030,000 for the property in 2010, according to the Hamilton County Assessor of Property.

The Community Bank of Raymore owned 23 restaurant buildings around the nation that it leased to the Ryan's steakhouse chain, said John Archer, a senior vice president and trust officer for the bank.

Archer wasn't upset about selling the Hixson restaurant building for half what his bank paid for it seven years prior.

"It's part of the game," Archer said. "We got 71 percent of what we paid for it back in rent. That was the average across all 23 units."

Ryan's steakhouse's parent company, San Antonio-based Buffets LLC, also owns HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Country Buffet, Fire Mountain and Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse.

Buffets LLC closed 166 restaurants in the spring of last year as part of its March Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and it continued to operate about 150 restaurants in 25 states, according to bankruptcy court filings.

As recently as 2012, Ryan's operated three steakhouses in the Chattanooga area: on Ringgold Road, in Hixson and in Dalton, Ga., near Dalton Square Mall.

They've all closed now.

Ryan's operates only four steakhouses in Tennessee, according to the restaurant's website. Those are in Greeneville, Lebanon, Madison and Union City.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or on Twitter @meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.

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