A corner lot in Evans currently home to a historic landmark will soon look different as a new fast-casual chain restaurant takes shape.
The small white and stone building at North Belair and Washington Roads, which once served as a teachers’ dormitory and later as a gift shop, will be replaced with the state’s first PDQ, a Tampa, Fla.-based restaurant that specializes in chicken tenders.
Plans are underway for PDQ, People Dedicated to Quality, to purchase the property in the next few weeks, with an estimated opening this summer, said spokesman Jeff Kamis.
“It’s a great area,” he said of the busy intersection. “We know there’s a lot of development.”
The structure, now on a bustling retail corridor and gateway into Evans, was formerly a teachers’ cottage for the old Evans School that sat across Washington Road on the current Home Depot site. The building dates back to the 1920s, said Billy Jackson Jr., member of a committee formed last year to save it. The committee is scrambling to find a way to move the structure to the old Columbia Middle School property on Columbia Road.
“If we can’t get it moved within a reasonable length of time, then it’ll be destroyed,” Jackson said, adding that time will likely run out within the next three weeks.
He and Donna Anderson, daughter of the property owner, said the main issue is finding a moving contractor that can undertake the job.
Anderson’s mother, Rachel Robertson, ran Strictly Country out of the building for 25 years until she retired in 2012.
At the very least, Anderson said she’d like to save the original stone from the building and its fireplace, as was done with the stone columns and arch that belonged to the Evans School. Those pieces were installed at the Columbia County Library.
Costs to move the building could run between $125,000 and $150,000, Jackson said, stating that more funding would be necessary to maintain the structure. A County Commission financial donation and money left from moving the columns and arch could be used to assist with the project, he said.
“We need to be good stewards of those buildings and history,” said Jackson, whose father, state Sen. Bill Jackson, is also on the committee. “The way our county is growing, we can outrun history real quick.”
PDQ is willing to incur costs associated with moving the building.
“We’ll do everything we can to work with them … because we do know how important that building is,” Kamis said.
The 4,300-square-foot restaurant will serve sandwiches, salads and hand-spun milkshakes, in addition to chicken meals.
It will have about 75 employees and include a drive-through window, an indoor dining section and either sunroom or outdoor patio seating.