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NASCAR-themed restaurant coming to Salisbury Mall

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
The plans for a Denny Hamlin-themed restaurant in Salisbury have seemingly gone through several cautions and even a trip behind the wall to the garage.
But the green flag is out again, and a Florida ownership group says “Denny Hamlin’s Grille 11” ó the first restaurant for the NASCAR driver ó could be open in about 90 days.
The restaurant will fill the spot of the former Original Steakhouse & Sports Theatre, which abruptly closed for good at the end of business July 6.
Bob McCarthy, a partner and concept development vice president for Celebrity Ventures, said a day later the plans for a Denny Hamlin restaurant announced earlier for the same location were no longer a sure thing.
McCarthy told the Post Monday that the Hamlin restaurant is back on track at the Salisbury Mall after meetings over the weekend.
Hamlin, who lives in the Lake Norman area, especially lobbied for the Salisbury location, McCarthy said.
“Denny loved the restaurant and loved the location,” he added.
The Salisbury restaurant was one of six sites Celebrity Ventures was looking to convert. Those restaurants had been closed, and the ownership group, trying to make the wisest use of its financial resources in a slumping economy, is now looking to reopen only three or four.
“We knew Salisbury was a place we wanted to consider,” McCarthy said.
Celebrity Ventures also is looking to place a Denny Hamlin restaurant in Charlotte, McCarthy said. Plans for an Asheville restaurant with Hamlin’s name have been shelved.
McCarthy said representatives of Celebrity Ventures plan to be in Salisbury Thursday and Friday.
“It’s just going through and finalizing all the details of it,” he said.
In the past, he has said Celebrity Ventures planned a $1.2 million investment to upfit the former steak house.
McCarthy said Monday Dennis Everhart, a manager for the Original Steakhouse, would become general manager of the new restaurant.
This would be Celebrity Ventures’ first restaurant with a NASCAR driver. It has been involved in other sports restaurants including Eddie George’s Grille 27 in Nashville, Tenn., and Columbus, Ohio, and Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 in Pittsburgh.
The grills use the numbers of the sports celebrities as part of the names. Hamlin drives the No. 11 car for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Other sports-themed restaurants developed by Celebrity Ventures have included more than 50 televisions and state-of-the-art sound systems. The company also has worked with NBA stars Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal and Major League Baseball player Jeff Conine.
The Original Steakhouse & Sports Theatre closed with no warning to employees, vendors or customers. Notices posted on the door blamed poor economic conditions.
The restaurant has been at the mall since October 2003.

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