NASCAR-themed restaurant at mall might be black-flagged
By Steve Huffman
Plans to open a NASCAR-themed restaurant at Salisbury Mall appear to have run out of gas.
Bob McCarthy, a partner and concept development vice president for Celebrity Ventures, the company that planned to open the restaurant, said Tuesday that Denny Hamlin’s Grille 11 is no longer a sure thing.
That news came a day after The Original Steakhouse & Sports Theatre, the restaurant whose place the grill was supposed to take, closed unexpectedly.
The Salisbury Mall location is still under consideration, McCarthy said, but developers are now looking at sites from Concord Mills Mall to downtown Charlotte.
“It’s going to happen,” McCarthy said. “Whether or not it’s in Salisbury remains to be seen.”
He said developers are looking for more than a single location for the NASCAR-themed restaurants.
McCarthy said the landlord at The Original Steakhouse “has taken back” the property. A call to officials at Salisbury Mall was not returned Tuesday.
The Original Steakhouse closed unexpectedly Monday, with no warning to employees, vendors or customers. Letters posted on a window at the restaurant blamed the poor economy for the closing.
McCarthy said his company, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was still considering opening in Salisbury, though he said it might be as much as six months before a decision is made.
“The real estate guys are getting all that stuff together,” he said. “We’re not down on Salisbury at all. We see it as growing, not dead.”
But in May, McCarthy had announced that the NASCAR-based restaurant would be opening within 90 days. Those plans are off the shelf.
McCarthy said Celebrity Ventures had planned to invest about $1.2 million in upfitting The Original Steakhouse. “If we’re going to spend that kind of money, we wanted to make sure it met our expectations,” he said. “We needed to do it right and do it 100 percent. We firmly believe in our product.”
Hamlin is a rising NASCAR star. Celebrity Ventures has done similar sports-themed restaurants with former National Football League stars Eddie George and Jerome Bettis. It has also worked with Major League Baseball player Jeff Conine and NBA stars Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal.