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Guthrie's Chicken preps Sanford for first Orlando-area restaurant

An Auburn-based chicken chain plans to enter the Greater Orlando market in 2017.

Sanford developer Jason Oliver will meet with Seminole County planners on Wednesday to discuss preliminary plans to build a Guthrie's Chicken at the northeast corner of Terracina Drive and State Road 46, just west of Interstate 4.

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There are few details about the building available. Oliver told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday that plans are in the embryonic stage, because the restaurant would be a prototype store for others he hopes to open throughout Central Florida.

"I want the Sanford store to be a training kitchen for what we do throughout the region," said Oliver, who spent 15 years helping Guthrie's grow from three stores to 30 in the early 2000s.

Guthrie's corporate office does use a pre-screened team of contractors and subcontractors when it expands, but Oliver said he will put together his own team to build the local restaurants.

Once the Sanford store is up and running, Oliver said he will be looking for property, about an acre or smaller, near the University of Central Florida. Guthrie's expansion has been fueled by locating close to campuses in college towns like Auburn, Alabama, and Tallahassee.

Oliver has not identified how many restaurants he plans to open, saying he will let the market determine his growth plans. He is funding the franchise expansion with private equity, and declined to say who his partners are on the project.

Guthrie's is entering a competitive chicken market in the Sanford area.

Zaxby's, which traces its beginnings to Auburn, Ala.-based Guthrie's, is planning to build about a mile east of the proposed Guthrie's location on State Road 46. A new stand-alone Chick-fil-A is planned just around the corner from the Zaxby's.

Oliver says neither chain will have a leg up on Guthrie's.

"There are other chicken restaurants nearby, but Guthrie's has a big following because of its presence near major universities," he said.

Oliver is just starting the planning process, and estimates it will take him until mid Fall to get all of the zoning and permits issued.

"I'd like to break ground no later than October, but we'll see how the process goes," he said. Oliver wants to open the restaurant in the first quarter of 2017.

SR&F Architects of Auburn has produced a conceptual site plan for the development.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at gnip@me.com. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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