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Staff photo by Mike Pare / A 'for lease' sign sits in front of a building on Taft Highway on Signal Mountain where Chicken Salad Chick had planned to open a restaurant.

In Signal Mountain's second restaurant loss this week, a planned Chicken Salad Chick eatery won't be moving to the mountaintop town after all.

Josh Patton, who owns and runs the Chicken Salad Chick restaurants in the Chattanooga area, said the brand's corporate office doesn't believe the town's population can successfully support such an eatery.

"So at this point, it's off," he said.

Patton, who had planned a restaurant in leased space on Taft Highway in the town's main commercial district on a trial basis, said that while the population is low on paper, "there is pretty much zero competition in our space and a captive audience of our target market."

But, he said, the corporate office "doesn't believe the population warrants the success of a store on Signal."

Earlier this week, McDonald's closed its nearby restaurant at 1308 Taft Highway.

Local McDonald's franchisee A&A Management of TN LLC determined it no longer made business sense to operate that 3,881-square-foot eatery.

"As small business owners in the community, we review our restaurant portfolio on a regular basis to make the best decisions for our business moving forward," Rob and Carrie Goodwin, co-owners of local McDonald's franchise, said in a statement. "The closing of our Signal Mountain restaurant was a difficult decision. It has been a pleasure serving the Signal Mountain community for more than five years. "

Patton had planned to lease the former Rafael's restaurant space across from the Pruett's Market. He said the grocery store's operator, Chuck Pruett, also owns the Rafael's building and was permitting a temporary lease of the vacant space.

The Chicken Salad Chick location was to have offered both dine-in and drive-through service, Patton said. During the restaurant lock down earlier this year due to the coronavirus, Signal Mountain was one of the most popular areas for bulk order drop-off, the restaurateur said.

He had intended to invest about $10,000 to clean the interior and take care of permitting and licensing, and then another $50,000 after the trial period. It was also to employ about 15 people, Patton said.

In 2018, the Signal Mountain Town Council voted to deny a rezoning request that would have allowed a Food City store to go at a location near the McDonald's and proposed Chicken Salad Chick off Taft Highway. At that time, the Keith Corp. planned to build a 38,000-square-foot Food City.

Since then, the adjacent town of Walden has given its approval for a grocery store, which documents have identified as a Food City. That project includes a 43,000-square-foot store and about 10,000 square feet of small shop space.

Landowner John Anderson said his proposal would provide Walden with some $200,000 annually in sales taxes.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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