Why owners think Columbus is a good fit for first Pure Taqueria outside of Atlanta
Two local entrepreneurs are banking on the future of development in north Columbus, and as a first step they’ve partnered with the owners of a popular metro Atlanta chain to bring Mexican cuisine to the area.
Business partners Jigar Shah and Suresh Kumar have worked for two years to bring the first Pure Taqueria restaurant outside of Atlanta to Columbus. The restaurant is set to open this fall on Veterans Parkway and Copper Creek Road just north of the Old Town development.
Standing out at the site following a ground blessing ceremony and groundbreaking on Tuesday, Shah said he sees potential foot traffic all around — a dozen or so apartment complexes, nearby schools, a paved walking trail that spans Veterans Parkway between Moon Road and Maple Ridge.
“The trail is on both sides,” Shah said. “You can come from Walden Pond, that intersection, and you can basically walk all the way here. And with Old Town bringing so many businesses, so many residents, I think they’ve got it really well planned and that will definitely help us.”
Brian Sillitto, executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce, also said the recent completion of the road widening project on Veterans Parkway has set the stage for this type of development.
“Whether that’s restaurants or not, you’re seeing some growth activities based on the economy,” he said. “Whenever I see dirt moving it’s always a positive sign.”
The entrance to the new development, called Maple Village, will be on Veterans Parkway. Crews have poured concrete pads for the two other businesses that will join Pure Taqueria, but there is no official word yet on what kinds of business those might be.
Local restaurateur Dennis Butterfield was selected to manage the restaurant, and has been training at the Atlanta locations and getting to know the brand. He said he had never heard of the restaurant before he was approached by Shah and Kumar.
Butterfield was a manager at the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar in Columbus for 14 years, worked as general manager at Wild Wing Cafe and operated his own chicken fingers business called Butterfingers for a decade.
This will be the seventh Pure Taqueria location. The restaurant chain, which was founded in 2005 in Alpharetta, is known for its authentic cuisine and margaritas.
Chris Sedgwick, founder of Pure Taqueria, said growth of the chain has been slow because he has been selective of the people he partners with.
“We’ve had a lot of people be interested in Pure Taqueria, but it’s really about teaming up with the right operational partners, and when these guys first approached us we kind of said ‘thanks but no thanks,’” Sedgwick said. “It took a while and (Shah and Kumar) really dug in and did everything we asked them to do, which includes getting somebody like Dennis who’s a lifetime restaurateur.
“This area is ripe for this kind of restaurant and we appeal to abroad audience. I think it will be a real strong growth area for us.”
Dan McCusker, director of operations for Pure Taqueria, said something Butterfield said really stuck with him and made him feel good about the Columbus location.
“He said probably 10 years ago, Pure Taqueria may not have worked in Columbus,” McCusker said. “But with the new restaurants that are downtown and the things that are going on as far as the restaurant scene goes that he felt like the area is really ready for a restaurant like Pure Taqueria that has kind of a more upscale feel, kind of a fun, hip environment.”
Sillitto said there is definitely a growing food scene in Columbus.
“I think Columbus has a growing food scene, where chain restaurants dominated the landscape and I think you’re seeing more and more entrepreneurs, whether they’re franchises or if they’re independents,” he said. “I think the consumer has an appetite for that.”
McCusker said he sees a lot of growth potential for the food market in Columbus.
“The market is kind of maturing as a food market in that there is new, more chef-driven stuff in town that people are taking to more than the chains, which we love because we think Pure is kind of a community, chef-driven menu and restaurant,” McCusker said. “We’re really excited to be here.”
The restaurant is expected to employ up to 70 people.