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Latest on potential restaurant site by railroad tracks in Flowery Branch
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Kevin Hobgood and Tara Brooks take a tour of the old Hamilton Cabinet Shop in downtown Flowery Branch Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, as they intend on renovating the former Purina mill into a restaurant space. - photo by Scott Rogers

Update, Oct. 21: Council gave its final approval to rezoning from light industrial to central business to allow for a potential new restaurant or other retail business in the old Hamilton Cabinet & Shutters at 5205 Railroad Ave.

The property is between Spring and Chestnut streets.

Kevin Hobgood has said he has several prospects for the site, including “established restaurants.”



Kevin Hobgood can just picture it. Diners are cutting up food and chatting just as the train “whizzes by for a minute or two” just outside the restaurant.

“It’s kinda fun,” he said. “Everybody loves trains, I think.”

The South Hall builder/developer and partner Tara Brooks of The Real Estate Group of Georgia are hoping to see such a restaurant — possibly one with rooftop seating — eventually open in the old Hamilton Cabinet & Shutters building at 5205 Railroad Ave. in Flowery Branch’s downtown area.

Hobgood and Brooks said they have several prospects.

“We’re talking to established restaurants,” Hobgood said.

The wooden building, which dates back to 1950, according to Hall County records, sits between Spring and Chestnut streets just off railroad tracks, which run parallel to Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 and serve as a constant reminder of the town’s railroad past. 

In his research and based on a set of now-abandoned tracks that run by the old cabinet shop, Hobgood believes that the cabinet shop once was a Purina plant that made dog food and had a chute that unloaded product onto a freight car.

“Once we get further along and find the good (business) operator, we’ll start putting the story together on what this thing is or was and create a destination,” Hobgood said, giving The Times a tour of the property on Wednesday, Aug. 11. “That’s what draws a lot of people into establishments.”

He has some government steps to take first.

Hobgood is seeking to rezone the business from light industrial to central business district. A public hearing was held at the Flowery Branch City Council meeting last week, and no one spoke in opposition.

“We are just super excited to have him come on board and meet with us (about the project),” city planner Rich Atkinson said at the meeting.

He went on to say that before Hobgood’s request, he didn’t think the cabinet shop was ripe for redevelopment and “quite frankly, we thought it would be demolished for parking.”

A first vote by the council on Hobgood’s rezoning request is set for Sept. 16. Atkinson said the eventual user would be required to go back before the council for plan approval.

As a builder with a passion for history, Hobgood saw possibilities in the building as he drove by it. The structure is a noticeable one, sitting above a busy roadway and close to City Hall.

“I’ve had my eye on this building for many years,” said Hobgood, who bought the property about six months ago.

The building has structural issues, with its sagging floors and aging rafters. But it also has character, especially its rusting signs, including one saying “Flowery Branch” on one side of the building.

A restaurant is envisioned, but Hobgood and Brooks also can see the 8,000-square-foot building being used for a coffee roasting business, antique mall, events venue and an artists colony.

“We’re just trying to go through the proper steps, get it cleaned up, get it rezoned and continue to market it,” Hobgood said. “We’ll talk to (potential) users and see who’s the best fit.”

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Kevin Hobgood and Tara Brooks take a tour of the old Hamilton Cabinet Shop in downtown Flowery Branch Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, as they intend on renovating the old mill into a restaurant space. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Kevin Hobgood walks through the old Hamilton Cabinet Shop in downtown Flowery Branch Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, he intends to turn into restaurant space. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Kevin Hobgood and Tara Brooks take a tour of the old Hamilton Cabinet Shop in downtown Flowery Branch Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, as they intend on renovating the old mill into a restaurant space. - photo by Scott Rogers
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A trains pulls through downtown Flowery Branch Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, as Kevin Hobgood and Tara Brooks take a tour of the old Hamilton Cabinet Shop in downtown Flowery Branch they recently purchased and plan to renovate the old building into a restaurant space. - photo by Scott Rogers
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