Chain restaurant to replace historic building in Evans

A corner lot in Evans currently home to a historic landmark will soon look different as construction of a fast-casual chain restaurant takes shape, though the old building’s fate remains unknown.

The small, white stone building on the corner of North Belair and Washington roads, which once served as a teachers’ dormitory and later a gift shop, will be replaced with the state’s first PDQ, a Tampa, Fla.-based chain that specializes in chicken tenders.

Plans are underway for PDQ, or People Dedicated to Quality, to purchase the property in the next few weeks, with an estimated opening this summer, spokesman Jeff Kamis said.

“It’s a great area,” Kamis said of the busy commercial intersection. “We know there’s a lot of development.”

Though the structure is now on a bustling retail corridor and gateway into Evans, it was formerly a teachers’ cottage for the old Evans School that sat across Washington Road on the current Home Depot site. The building dates back to the 1920s, said Billy Jackson Jr., a member of a committee formed last year to save the building. The committee is scrambling to find a way to move the structure to the old Columbia Middle School property on Columbia Road.

“If we can’t get it moved within a reasonable length of time, then it’ll be destroyed,” said Jackson, adding that time probably will run out within the next two to three weeks.

Jackson and Donna Anderson, daughter of the property owner, said the main issue they face is finding a moving contractor that can undertake the job.

Anderson’s mother, Rachel Robertson, ran Strictly Country out of the building for 25 years until she retired and closed it in 2012.

At the very least, Anderson said, she’d like to save the original stone from the building and its fireplace, as was done with the old stone columns and arch that belonged to the Evans School. Those pieces were installed behind the Columbia County Library.

Costs to move the old building could run from $125,000 to $150,000, said Jackson, who added that more funding would be necessary to maintain the structure. A Columbia County Commission financial donation and money leftover from moving the columns and arch could be used to assist with the project, he said.

“We need to be good stewards of those buildings and history,” said Jackson, whose father, state Sen. Bill Jackson, is also on the committee. “The way our county is growing, we can outrun history real quick.”

PDQ is willing to incur costs associated with moving the building.

“We’ll do everything we can to work with them in regard to that because we do know how important that building is,” Kamis said.

The Columbia County restaurant will be the 22nd in the Southeast for PDQ, which opened its first business in late 2011 in Tampa. The first PDQ in South Carolina opened last weekend in Columbia, Kamis said.

The 4,300-square-foot restaurant will serve sandwiches, salads and hand-spun milkshakes in addition to chicken meals.

The restaurant will add about 75 employees and include a drive-through window, an indoor dining section and either sunroom or outdoor patio seating.

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