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Local KFC franchisee closing final three restaurants

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Two KFC restaurants closed in Co­lum­bia County last week, and a third is doing the same.

“It was the toughest decision I ever made in my life,” franchisee Billy Wingate said. “It really hurts.”

The restaurants at 215 Furys Ferry Road in Mar­tinez and 4088 Jimmie Dyess Park­way off Interstate 20 closed Feb. 10, and Win­gate will shut his final restaurant at 898 Horizon South Parkway in Grovetown within two weeks, after the remaining food has been sold.

Wingate said the closings were caused by increased labor and food costs.

“It was just impossible to make any money,” he said.

About 75 employees will lose their jobs, Wingate said.

“It’s hard to go in there and tell someone you have to close down the store,” said Wingate, who opened his first area Ken­tucky Fried Chicken in 1988 in Barnwell, S.C. “It’s hard for me to talk about.”

There are parties interested in purchasing the properties, Wingate said.

The family-operated franchise company closed its KFC restaurant on Washington Road near the Evans Wal-Mart in May after it had been open for about three years.

That restaurant had difficult access into the parking lot. Wingate purchased the property thinking a traffic light would be installed in front of Chimney Hill and Country Place subdivisions nearby, he said.

In late 2010, Wingate sold his former Columbia Road KFC to the owners of a Zaxby’s franchise.

There are nine other KFCs across Augusta, North Augusta, Aiken, Waynesboro, Ga., and Wrens, Ga., according to KFC’s Web site.

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GnipGnop
12443
Points
GnipGnop 02/18/13 - 03:50 pm
13
4
Change you can hope for?

Change you can hope for?

Little Lamb
46802
Points
Little Lamb 02/18/13 - 03:53 pm
14
6
Minimum Wage

It's another good reason for Congress not to raise the minimum wage.

seenitB4
90557
Points
seenitB4 02/18/13 - 03:57 pm
3
6
OOOHH NOO

At first I thought this article was about the Fleming area...butt noooo....Furys Ferry Rd area folks....soo I blame this solely on the Martinez/Evans folks...esp the posters on here....they let this business go belly up while they were pecking away on here...no excuse for this ...I won't mention any names but a stream of water comes to mind....even my sis lives off Evans Lock & I'm sure she has some blame too....lol... GEEZ

seenitB4
90557
Points
seenitB4 02/18/13 - 04:01 pm
4
4
The Grovetown store

Now that I blame on the McDaniels.....& maybe stewart too.....too much Mexican food for the McDaniels & not enough chicken...no excuse--no excuse....:)

dichotomy
34304
Points
dichotomy 02/18/13 - 04:22 pm
12
5
The price of chicken, all

The price of chicken, all meat and food items, keeps going up way beyond the inflation rate, the Obamacare tax and scheduling problems if you cut worker hours to try and avoid the tax, and the prospect of another minimum wage raise. It's easier and cheaper to close the doors than it is to put up with Obama and the Democrats. 75 more people Obama and the Democrats have helped to the welfare line. Oh, and no more income taxes from the "rich" corporate owner.

Higher taxes, more regulation = less revenue, higher unemployment, more welfare. When a Kentucky Fried can't make it things are pee poor.

Just My Opinion
5839
Points
Just My Opinion 02/18/13 - 04:23 pm
8
1
First off, I am very sorry

First off, I am very sorry when any business has to close. It involves not just the local employees, but it involves businesses whose jobs are to support that business. As far as the location on Washington Road in Evans, I just don't understand the owner's thinking in picking THAT particular location. Why did he think there'd be a traffic light put in there? Was he told something by someone along those lines? And why was he so surprised at how difficult it is to get in and out of that location?? To me, the height of ignorance (sorry, that word fits but it does sound harsher than I mean it to sound) is when a business owner picks a site without asking others (meaning the LOCALS who live there) for input. I know a few people who live in Chimney Hill and in Northwood and they know EXACTLY how difficult it is to get in and out of there, at all hours of the day and night! The spot DOES need a traffic light, but we all know it's going to take someone "important" to die there! A poor young child did die there not too long ago.
Good luck to all these people who will be out of a job...I sure hope someone does come in and take over all the locations!

my.voice
4914
Points
my.voice 02/18/13 - 04:24 pm
15
5
Wait until the minimum wage

Wait until the minimum wage is jacked up. More small businesses are doomed. And yes, a franchise is a small business.

concercitizen
543
Points
concercitizen 02/18/13 - 04:51 pm
13
7
And as we all do the Obama

And as we all do the Obama duck march into the gas chambers-------

Brad Owens
4715
Points
Brad Owens 02/18/13 - 04:52 pm
13
1
Just my Opinion...

My understanding was that he was told by sitting members of the Columbia County Commission that a red light would go there in order to get him to build. Also, there were other issues that were not as they were presented.

Anyway, this is bad.

Fiat_Lux
15887
Points
Fiat_Lux 02/18/13 - 05:23 pm
10
4
Yeah, this is bad

and starting to edge toward scary.

rocketserve
280
Points
rocketserve 02/18/13 - 05:31 pm
8
2
Sad but...
Unpublished

Yes it is sad when a business goes under, and I do not know this person, but how many of the other KCF's are still in business in the area? Why is it that ONLY the ones that he owns are going under? Could it also be attributed to bad ownership/management as well as the economy? The KFC in Grovetown is right next to a McDonald's that is ALWAYS busy and it is no easier to get in and out of than the KFC. There is also a Huddle House across the street from the KFC that is not as easy to get in and out of. Just making an observation.

Fools_and_sages
360
Points
Fools_and_sages 02/18/13 - 05:57 pm
0
0
Have you ever been to these KFC's?
Unpublished

At all of these locations, the service is so slow, you could batter and fry your own chicken, mash up some potatoes, and make homemade gravy and mac and cheese at home in the time it took them to put some stuff in a box. Even if you were the only one in the restaurant, it could take 20 minutes to get your food because there might be three people working during dinner rush. FAST food is supposed to be FAST. There was also NEVER any extra crispy available even before corporate did away with the extra crispy formula.

While I actually preferred KFC to Bojangles, Wife Saver, Zaxby's, and Church's, I started going to Popeye's when I wanted spicy fried chicken. If I want plain old "extra crispy" fried chicken I go to Walmart or Bi-lo-- where it is just as good, a lot cheaper, and a lot faster.

While I'm sure that many business owners will use Obamacare, paying the RIGHT AMOUNT (i.e. the legally established amount for many years before 2011-2012) in social security contributions, and the threat of a minimum wage hike to justify not hiring and cutting hours, shutting down your business over it is cutting off your nose to spite your face because you're putting yourself out of work. If you hire more people, service improves and customers patron your business. If you cut staff, service becomes abominable, and the customers go elsewhere. When your business is so similar to at least five other chains and some big box stores and grocery stores also have the same products already prepared, your service needs to be top notch or your customers go elsewhere. You have to spend money to make money. If you're unwilling to invest in labor for your business so a certain level of service is maintained, money is hard to make!

single parent
395
Points
single parent 02/18/13 - 06:06 pm
8
5
KFC's have not done well

KFC's have not done well since 1990 and for you folks that are always spouting out numbers, you might want to look at growth of that chain. It is funny how some businesses can thrive even with high cost and others cannot, it is the way of life. People always have to eat and if they are not eating at your place then this is what happens.
Chuck at French Market pays some of the highest wages and takes great care of his employees and the man has been in business since 1984. Have you ever ran an eating establishment? Do you know the ins and outs? Even million dollar start ups can go down in less than six months. Look at the replacement for Ruby Tuesdays, what one week? For you people that do not get it the government spends more money on dedicated buildings and ridiculous projects than anything. I can bet you the President has never seen or heard anything about most of them, because he is to busy trying not to get us blown the heck up.
I still have not heard what all of these fix it all talkers would do if in office, because you would end up like JFK for bucking the system. AGAIN WE ARE A SPECIES THAT WILL MURDER OVER A YELLOW ROCK OUT OF THE GROUND AND WILL TRY TO JUSTIFY THE MURDER! !

Darby
26830
Points
Darby 02/19/13 - 12:40 am
18
0
My family and I were regulars at the.....

Evans location. Let me assure you access to parking was NOT the issue. Service and supervision were the culprits. They were constantly running out of chicken and other items on the bar and the place was staffed by kids who looked to be about high school age. There was virtually NO adult supervision.

We talked frequently about the fact that a business run that way could not survive in a competitive market. It didn't.

I even obtained the owner's phone number and called him about poor service. I did it precisely because I liked eating there and wanted the place to thrive. I believe that if there had been better supervision and a more "hands on" approach by the owner, they'd be going gang-busters.

KFC has an excellent business model. In the right hands it would be hard to beat.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 02/18/13 - 06:54 pm
11
0
The KFC in Grovetown

... is closing? I periodically stopped there once it replaced the Hardees, always with the same poor service; incorrect/incomplete orders, clerks who couldn't make change, pee-warm cold food, mummified biscuits and cooked-until-dessicated chicken. I can believe they'll be open a few more weeks to clear out inventory; the last order I had appeared about three weeks old. It can be replaced with a button that when pushed, does nothing.

SFCRET85
4998
Points
SFCRET85 02/18/13 - 07:49 pm
1
0
Maybe, just maybe the KFC's
Unpublished

Maybe, just maybe the KFC's are biting the dust because their product line is not what folks want these days. Business's go out of business every day in America because they refuse to adapt to the customer. KFC just didn't taste good to our family anymore and we quit buying from them years ago.

KFC's business model depends on high traffic and if there is poor access compounded by product disatisfication and topped off by poor management-well good bye.

I did a stint in the hospitality business and good product is always first, followed by good service. People will put up with average service and poor accesability for good food.

Some people want to blame the present administration because it furthers their personal agenda. Those are the folks who depend upon "low information" voters.

triscuit
3152
Points
triscuit 02/18/13 - 07:52 pm
11
0
Mr. Owner, blame terrible

Mr. Owner, blame terrible service for the demise of your locations. Not the economy. People flock to Chik fil a because of quick, accurate, polite service. Higher prices don't matter. All KFC.c's I have gone to in the past few years have ALL had bad service and mediocre food. I can get better chicken at any Publix and be treated like my Money matters.

vegasbaby
177
Points
vegasbaby 02/18/13 - 08:06 pm
6
1
too much chicken competition

Had gotten dinner at the Furys Ferry location last week, and they were out of mashed potatoes. I thought that was really weird, and I expressed my dismay in "how can KFC be out of mashed potatoes"... On a side note, my daughter knows what KFC is, but not Kentucky Fried Chicken... Always seemed pricey for the amount of chicken you got; did like the grilled though, but with the other chicken restaurant options, it was usually not the best choice for your money.

vibe1
62
Points
vibe1 02/18/13 - 08:18 pm
10
0
Poor service kills you every time

I agree with the above posters. It's not location or the economy that has caused these closures. I can't speak about the others stores, but I can say that the Dyess Parkway store had the worse service I've seen in a while. When they first opened, it was decent, a little slow, but ok. But over the years, the service became embarrassing. (Or I would be embarrassed if I owned or managed it) The orders were wrong, food left out, employees with very bad attitudes, ...the list goes on. I stopped going there about 6 months ago, finally got fed up. The family really liked KFC too.

harley_52
23959
Points
harley_52 02/18/13 - 09:31 pm
9
3
The Success....

....or failure of fast food (and other restaurants) is almost always determined by the store management. Get a good manager who knows how to hire and supervise good employees and you've got a winner. Be sloppy in who you hire to manage and work your store and you're bound to failure.

KFC is a known winner, but some stores just can't hack it. It's all about management.

That statement becomes somewhat muted by policies like Obamacare and upping the Minimum Wage, but still only the strongest will survive.

jack2006
106
Points
jack2006 02/18/13 - 10:03 pm
12
0
BAD Food

KFC doesn’t have a location problem.

KFC doesn’t have parking problem.

KFC doesn’t have a red light problem.

KFC doesn’t have an economy problem.

KFC doesn’t have a pay wage problem.

KFC doesn’t have a healthcare problem.

KFC doesn’t have an employee problem.

KFC does have an employer/owner problem that thinks that they can put whatever kind of food on the market and expects people to continue to purchase a box chicken that was cook in stale old grease and side orders that are half filled. The coleslaw was their signature side order but that started to taste like it was outdated or sat unrefrigerated for a period of time.

If your FOOD is fresh, taste GOOD, people will drive whatever distance, cross whatever traffic, wait for whatever time frame for it, pay whatever price, or even wait months on a reservation list to dine at your establishment.

It is the FOOD that caused the CLOSINGS!

harley_52
23959
Points
harley_52 02/18/13 - 10:37 pm
11
1
"It is the FOOD that caused the CLOSINGS!"

People prepare, package, and present FOOD to customers.

A good manager makes sure it's fresh, hot, and tasty.

Good FOOD doesn't cook itself, wrap itself, and jump into the customer's car, or onto his table.

griff6035
4093
Points
griff6035 02/18/13 - 10:54 pm
9
0
Employees

Bad service, uneducated uncaring employees and bad tasting food equals the downfall of any restaurant.

RonRoberts
66
Points
RonRoberts 02/19/13 - 12:05 am
6
6
Gotta love the wingnuts

A business closes and it's the President's fault. I'm sorry, but you can't swing a dead CAT without hitting a Zaxby's in the metro Augusta area. The difference? Well, for one, Zaxby's food is FAR superior AND they tend to pay better AND customer service is much better than at other fast food establishments. Coincidence? I think not.

Darby
26830
Points
Darby 02/19/13 - 12:48 am
8
1
My opinion......

KFC and Zaxby's prepared by the exact same chef, under the same conditions, the KFC would be head and shoulders above Zaxby's. Zaxby's is good, but pretty much tastes like what I cook at home. I can't replicate KFC's product. Particularly the original recipe.

Sad to see them go.... I'll bet Col. Sanders is turning over in his urn.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 02/19/13 - 08:37 am
0
0
Amen and Amen
Unpublished

In the day, KFC could not be touched. BUT, Bad service, uneducated uncaring employees and bad tasting food equals the downfall of any restaurant.

Constant turnover of employees and retraining each and every day is the nature of fast food in our culture. Ask any truthful franchisee.

nocnoc
44684
Points
nocnoc 02/19/13 - 09:24 am
5
0
Cost vs. Quality A few years

Cost vs. Quality

A few years after Col. Sanders sold out, he said it himself on the Johnny Carson show. The prices went up and the quality and taste went down hill.

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 02/19/13 - 09:27 am
0
0
I'm a long time KFC fan and
Unpublished

I'm a long time KFC fan and still believe it's the best fried chicken out there however, we pretty much stopped buying a few years back because the price got so high and the chicken pieces kept getting smaller and smaller. I used to eat 2 pcs and be full. Today I eat 4 sometimes more to fill up. Every time I popped a piece of chicken into my mouth I'd be thinking, " it ought to be against the law to kill a chicken this young".

Little Lamb
46802
Points
Little Lamb 02/19/13 - 09:53 am
4
2
Trust

Brad Owens posted:

My understanding was that he was told by sitting members of the Columbia County Commission that a red light would go there in order to get him to build.

Washington Road is a state highway. The portion where the KFC is located is unincorporated. Hence, DOT rules regarding stop lights apply. The county commission has little control over state highways in unincorporated areas.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 02/19/13 - 10:23 am
5
0
They tested and tested and

They tested and tested and these days Fielddale chickens can be raised and ready for a bucket within 2 months or less. They cornered the market for fried chicken (not in strip form) by saturating the area and all but eliminating Church's. Wife Saver's scaled the operation back over the past several years as well, closing 15th Street and Berkman locations. I haven't eaten KFC food in years and only a few times over the past decade. As good as it is, you can taste the heart attack and artery clogging flavors that like to party with KFC recipes. Not to mention the thousands of calories you can pack in with just a few bites. The model is a great one as long as folks don't give a yank about their weight/health and as long as the economy supports "disposable" fast food joints. Columbia County by and large would prefer to patronize the Zaxby's b/c it was born from a familiar idea that occurred in AThens back in the 90's at a place called Guthrie's i think. The honey mustard cometh. Zaxby people took their idea and corporized it, just like KFC did so many years ago. The culture is different and it just traded one chicken fast-food option for another due to nuances. The shotty service and food-quality just expedited the demise of these KFC's. That's not to say they would have survived even with exceptional service. Sounds like the traffic issue in Evans didn't help matters and maybe there was some expectation of a developed intersection on the horizon. Maybe that expectation was set by someone. For one reason or another, the model wasn't good enough to keep up with the changes, despite all the advantages (low-cost/quick chicken supply, established brand, etc) that existed.

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