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Ask The Times: Why doesn't East Hall have many grocery stores, restaurants?
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The Kroger at New Holland Market is on the commuting path for many East Hall residents, according to Tim Evans, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce vice president for development.

If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by a reader and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

Why aren’t there many grocery stores and restaurants in East Hall County?

It comes down to a combination of factors, according to Tim Evans, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for development.

“There’s an old adage that retail follows rooftops,” Evans said. “But it’s more than that.”

Evans said the availability of sewer is vital, with many grocers and restaurants unwilling to develop in an area where only septic is available.

Dennis Bergin, city manager for Lula, said the traffic counts on Ga. 365 are helping East Hall residents’ hopes of luring more grocery stores. He said conversations with grocery chains about a possible location on Ga. 365 in Lula have him “encouraged” about the prospects in the near future.

J&J Foods on Limestone Parkway was the closest grocery store to East Hall until the Kroger at New Holland Market was recently built. Evans said it is on the commuting path for many East Hall residents and is one of the most successful Krogers in the region.

“You can see that firsthand by looking at the parking lot,” Evans said. “It’s always full.”

Bergin said the addition of the new wastewater plant built by Lula has opened up Ga. 365 north of Ga. 52 for commercial retail development.

In addition to new housing permits and sewer, Evans said access to intersections, the ability to sell beer and wine, population growth and traffic flows are important factors for grocery stores and restaurants in deciding where to open businesses.

Evans said much of the growth in Hall County has been in South Hall and Gainesville, and as other areas continue to grow, more restaurants and grocery stores should follow.

Said Bergin: “As the economy continues to warm up, I think there will be more opportunities for us all.”

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