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We have the meat on new Arby’s in Cornelius


May 11By Dave Vieser. Arby’s is coming to Cornelius, and with a whole new look. Developer Stonegate LLC plans to build a 2,200 square-foot restaurant on a 1.6 acre parcel across from Lake Norman Tractor on Hwy. 21. While there are Arby’s stores in Mooresville and Huntersville, this one will have a whole new design, according to Stonegate’s Jeff Wakeman.

Arby’s is beefing up its presence not just in North Carolina, but around the country. It occupies a market niche about halfway between fast-food chains like McDonald’s and fast-casual restaurants, like Panera. The privately held company is in what’s called “QSR-plus”—for quick-service restaurant, but a little better. Back when Arby’s was just starting out in the mid-1960s, its trademark roast beef sandwich cost three- to four-times as much as a McDonald’s hamburger.

The Arby’s QSR-plus strategy out-performed the fast food sector by far last year. Burgers were flat.

Stonegate will develop the new concept Arby’s in the Charlotte area. “It’s a brand new prototype,” Wakeman said. The Cornelius store—the first of the new ones in Charlotte—will open before the end of the year.

Before the town signed off on the proposal, the developers had to clear some architectural variations with the Board of Adjustment and the town’s Architectural Review Board. Those included the amount of glass on the front street level portion of the building, as well as the use of stucco finish on insulation board rather than float finish stucco.

The board approved the variations earlier this month; the last impediment was the type of material to be used for the restaurants’ ice cooler located to the rear of the building. Their original plans had it made of metal, but the Board of Adjustment suggested either brick or stucco, matching the color of the building.

Wakeman said the town could have it their way. “We want to be open by the end of the year so we’re racing to get this done before the colder weather sets in,” he said.

Stonegate can begin site work, since there is no change in zoning needed, and the owner, by right, can construct a restaurant at that site. Surrounding properties on Hwy. 21 are vacant and heavily wooded, and a 30-foot evergreen buffer will be provided between the new eatery property and the adjacent residential property located directly behind to the east.