Steak ‘N Shake planned for former Ponderosa site

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By Steve Rob Messenger Staff Journalist


Three Athens natives are partnering on a project that would put a Steak ‘N Shake restaurant on East State Street at the former site of a Ponderosa restaurant.

The goal is to break ground in the spring and have the restaurant open by summer, said Jim Stricklin of Athens. He is partnering with his brother, Scott, and Eli Flournoy, both of whom currently live in Georgia.

“We all grew up in Athens, we all went to Athens High School,” said Jim Stricklin, who also said there are private investors involved in the project.

He said development of the restaurant is still in the beginning stages.

A lease for the site is being reviewed, but has not yet been signed, according to Stricklin. He said construction bids have been taken, but a contractor has not been hired.

“We have been approved by Steak ‘N Shake to build it,” Stricklin said. “It will be what they call a classic Steak ‘N Shake.”

It will be a full-service restaurant with a full menu.

 Stricklin said he has been involved the restaurant business since graduating from Ohio University in 1991.

He said Steak ‘N Shake appealed to the partners because it is a “good, solid concept.”

“It’s not really fast food, it’s a step above,” Stricklin said. “The product sells itself.”

The restaurants are known for their steakburgers and, of course, milkshakes, but Strickland said the restaurant will also serve breakfast.

There has been preliminary discussion of developing access from the Athens Recreation Center parking lot into the parking lot of the Shoppes at Athens, where the restaurant would be located, according to emails The Messenger obtained through a public records request.