Fans of Newk’s Eatery, which serves up soups, sandwiches, salads and pizza, don’t have much longer to wait for its Columbus debut.
Construction is about to begin on the popular restaurant’s 5,201-square-foot location at 5555 Whittlesey Blvd., in the Columbus Park Crossing shopping and dining area of the city. That’s in the former Atlanta Bread Co. property, which closed its doors suddenly last December.
A Columbus building permit shows that JMH Dining LLC, a Jackson, Miss.-based franchisee of Newk’s Eatery, will be spending $450,000 on retrofitting the Atlanta Bread space to the Newk’s format and look.
The company is shooting to open in the first quarter of next year, Tracy Henderson, a public relations representative for Newk’s, confirmed Wednesday. The location should seat approximately 150 customers. With the Columbus location on the larger side of a typical Newk’s, it should employ between 60 and 75 people.
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Newk’s has more than 115 locations in 13 states, mostly across the Southeast. It was founded in 2004 as Newk’s Express Cafe by father and son chefs Don and Chris Newcomb, then rebranded to Newk’s Eatery in 2013. Sentinel Capital Partners, a private equity firm, bought the chain in 2014. The Newcombs also previously founded and sold the McAlister’s Deli chain, with its Columbus location on Veterans Parkway across from Lowe’s Home Improvement.
The franchisee, JMH Dining LLC, is involved with Newk’s Eatery locations and Wendy’s fast-food outlets in the Southeast. The company is operated by Jan Collins and his sons, Matt and Hays Collins, according to a 2013 news release published at RestaurantNews.com, just as JMH Dining was opening a location in Montgomery, Ala. It was in the 1970s that Jan’s father opened the first Wendy’s in Mississippi, the release said.
“The restaurant business is all I’ve ever known, as I’ve been around it my whole life. But Newk’s brings a different type of dining experience and a lot of variety to diners,” Matt Collins, who oversees the Montgomery eatery and also is opening the Columbus location, said in the release. “It’s the complete package, including excellent quality, freshly prepared menu offerings that range from comfort to health-conscious food in an upscale casual environment with prompt service.”
The Newk’s menu includes a variety of pizzas, including Newk’s Q, Grilled Chicken Summer Squash, Bleu Hawaiian, Mediterranean, Spicy Shrimp, Veggie, and Sausage & Pepperoni.
Sandwiches include steak and chimichurri, choice roast beef, turkey avocado, pimiento cheese, smoked ham, grilled steak, Italian, club, pesto chicken, shrimp po’boy and chicken salad.
Soups range from Five Bean Chili, Pepperjack Crawfish, Pulled Corn & Pork Chowder and Spinach and Feta to Lobster and Crab Bisque, Loaded Potato, Chicken Tortilla and Tomato Basil.
There are several salads, with toppings that include grilled salmon, ahi tuna, grilled chicken greek-style, shrimp remoulade and chicken salad. The mac and cheese offerings are five cheese and six cheese pimiento with bacon.
Homemade desserts feature several flavors of cakes — chocolate, iced lemon, caramel and strawberry — as well as lemon whoopie pie, brownies and peanut butter krispy.