LAURINBURG — After five months, Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q has returned to the same spot, but housed in a new multi-million dollar facility.
The Plaza Drive location officially reopened on Tuesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house. The fast-food eatery was torn down in January to rebuild the restaurant from scratch.
The return could not have come soon enough for city resident Marlon Leach.
“I couldn’t wait until they opened again,” Leach said. “I don’t eat hamburgers or stuff like that so I was really wanting them to be open soon.”
The newly designed store is a prototype for Smithfield’s that the company hopes to eventually have for all the stores. Several customers were impressed by the redo, including Leach.
“I got mad when they told me they were redecorating that place,” Leach said. “I was like ‘oh my God for what?” But it looks better, it is a great improvement.”
There were some customers like Ricky Bearson from Laurel Hill who came by just to see the new building.
“The footprint didn’t look like it was bigger than the other one but they say it is and it looks like it is,” Bearson said.
Others said they were ready for the return of the restaurant’s signature fried chicken and barbecue plates.
“We definitely missed it,” said Nell Dean Leggette. “The cleanliness and the good service is what keeps us coming back.”
The restaurant also serves Brunswick stew, potato salad, shrimp, baked beans and hush puppies. The chain takes it name from the Johnston County town where its first location opened in 1964.
Smithfield’s has been in the Laurinburg area for around 15 years and has done so well that the group that runs the chain, Bullard Restaurant Group, decided that it was time to give the store an upgrade.
Drew Bullard, chief operating officer for the group, said that the customers in Laurinburg deserved “the finest and best” facility that the business could offer.
“We feel like we have provided what maybe the nicest restaurant in town,” Bullard said. “We’re just excited to get back open and visit with everyone because the customers and relationship are what make this a wonderful place.”
The restaurant was supposed to its doors opened by Memorial Day, but weather issues caused delays
Still Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q President Lew Starling, said the building went up in record time.
“We’re excited about Laurinburg, it’s been a great location,” Starling said. “There’s a lot of great customers here and we’re happy to be back with this new prototype.”
The chain also brought back many of the previous employees including General Manager Linda Hudson who said the store will have around 45 employees.
The construction was handled by Chambliss & Rabil Inc., the contractors refurbishing all the Smithfield’s in North Carolina.
Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q is open each day from 9:45 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. It is located at 402 Plaza Drive near Lowes and Holiday Inn Express.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171