Despite protests from neighboring businesses, the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board gave its OK Tuesday night to a Golden Corral restaurant off Browns Bridge Road and Pearl Nix Parkway.
“I’m hoping that because there’s such a large (shared) parking area and such diverse types of food (choices at nearby restaurants) that they … complement each other,” board member Jane Fleming said.
The board voted to approve Bryan Day’s request for a variance, or that, in allowing the Golden Corral, setbacks from Brown Bridge and Pearl Nix Parkway be reduced and the number of required parking spaces drop to 25 from 88.
In his proposal, Day states “the remaining spaces will be shared parking spaces within the adjacent shopping center,” Gainesville Towne Shopping Center.
That arrangement didn’t sit well with Scott Hunter, property manager for Sterling Organization, which owns the center.
He told the board that, as part of mortgage refinancing, “we’ve been told we’re actually 46 spaces below the current requirement for parking, so we already have a shortage of parking.”
Golden Corral, which serves buffet-style food, also was opposed by similar restaurants in the shopping center, Hibachi Buffet and Stevi B’s Pizza Buffet.
“If Golden Corral comes in, it’s going to cut my business in half,” Stevi B’s owner Michael Foy Sr. said. “... I’ll have to declare bankruptcy — I will lose what I’ve invested in.
“Sorry to be so emotional, but this is an issue that puts a lot of pressure on my family.”
Foy’s son, Michael Foy Jr., told the board he believes the Golden Corral will oversaturate the buffet market in that area and the end result might be all three restaurants will have to close.
“Just with us closing, that would be 30 people losing their job,” he said.
One restaurant now in that area that won’t know the outcome of Golden Corral’s entry to the market is the longstanding Folks. The Golden Corral would replace — and would be twice the size of — the restaurant.