Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: I heard a rumor that a Chick-fil-A is going to be going in where the old Steak ‘n Shake was in Weaverville. Anyone else heard that?
My answer: I think it’s safe to say that any time a restaurant is rumored to be coming, it could be Chick-fil-A. Or Bojangles. Those restaurants sprout up like mushrooms after a rainstorm.
Real answer: The Steak ‘n Shake, which was open for almost a decade at 11 Bett Stroud Boulevard off Future I-26, did indeed close in April.
But it does not look like Chick-fil-A is going to fill the spot.
“We are always evaluating potential new locations in the hopes of serving existing and new customers great food with remarkable service,” Brownlee Hopkins, a spokesperson for Chick-fil-A, said via email Nov. 8. “While we hope to serve the Weaverville community in the future, we do not currently have any locations to confirm.”
Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey said she too has heard the rumors about the Steak ‘n Shake building.
“However, the town has received no permit applications for the property to date,” Coffey said via email Nov. 8.
The most definitive source, however, was the property owner. John D. and Patricia Caroline Hollifield, under the company Burger Werks LLC, own the 1.7-acre site, according to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office.
The couple operated Steak ‘n Shake for about 10 years before retiring in April and closing the restaurant, John Hollifield told me.
“It’s under contract,” John Hollifield said Nov. 9, declining to say who the property is under contract to but confirming it’s another restaurant. “I will tell you it’s not Chick-fil-A.”
Hollifield said he did talk with Chick-fil-A, but the company is not locating at the former Steak ‘n Shake site.
The property, which has an assessed property tax value of $1.26 million, according to Buncombe County records, has a prime location, John Hollifield said. He said other fast food restaurants nearby have high traffic, and Steak ‘n Shake’s menu was popular with customers.
Another operational factor — one that just about all businesses are dealing with now — weighed more heavily.
“I got tired of dealing with employees not wanting to work,” Hollifield said.
He added that he owns several other properties in the area and hasn’t completely retired.
“I’m fully retired from hiring employees,” he said with a laugh. “Any endeavors I do going forward will be just me, because I can count on me. Nobody else will show up.”
He acknowledged the Chick-fil-A rumors have been strong, even to the point where his wife, who works a part-time job, “got in an argument with a guy” about it. The guy insisted Chick-fil-A is coming to the Steak ‘n Shake site, even though his wife co-owns the property and told him that’s not correct.
Chick-fil-A does have stores in Asheville, Candler, Arden, Waynesville and Hendersonville, and it’s definitely in growth mode.
But, for the record, it’s not Chick-fil-A coming to the former Steak ‘n Shake site in Weaverville.
Question: I know that the Blue Ridge Parkway does not allow commercial vehicles. Yet I continue to see Mountain Mobility and PACE vehicles driving on the BRP. Are they not considered commercial? (PACE stands for Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, by the way.)
My answer: Let’s just pause here to note the abbreviation for the parkway could be construed as “Burp.” Craft brewers, are you paying attention? Potential ad campaign: “Have a beer with us, and then enjoy the BRP!”
Real answer: “Your reader is correct in the general prohibition of commercial vehicle use on the parkway,” Blue Ridge Parkway spokeswoman Leesa Brandon said via email. “However, commercial passenger carrying vehicles are covered under the regulations in such a way that does permit the types of vehicles your reader references, i.e. people-moving commercial vehicles, on the parkway.”
Got a question? Reach out to Asheville Watchdog’s Answer Man John Boyle at (828) 337-0941 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org