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Tebow’s first area PDQ opens Nov. 3

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Tim Tebow's first area PDQ restaurant should open at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 3 at Beach and Hodges boulevards — and the regional market director can't say yet whether the hometown quarterback will attend the grand opening.

He might, but if he doesn't, he'll have more opportunities.

Pam Murphy, North Florida/Georgia market director, said four more area locations have been identified for the fast-casual specialty chicken restaurant chain, and that she expects 50-60 stores will be built in North Florida and Georgia.

Murphy provided a tour Friday of the PDQ under construction at 3260 Hodges Blvd.

Tampa-based PDQ was founded by Bob Basham, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, and Nick Reader, former CFO of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The eatpdq.com website shows eight restaurants are open in Florida and four in North Carolina, with four more planned in Florida, three in North Carolina and others in Alabama, Texas, South Carolina and Philadelphia.

Basham and Reader are partnering with H2 Restaurant Partners LLC to develop the North Florida and Georgia restaurants.

H2 Restaurant Partners LLC comprises Tebow and three other investors who own the rights in the market.

Tebow starred as the quarterback for Nease High School and the Florida Gators before playing in the NFL for the Denver Broncos. He has since played for and been released from the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.

His largest local presence, not counting the fans who demand that the Jacksonville Jaguars give him a chance, is the Tim Tebow Foundation, which assists children around the world.

Other investors in H2 Restaurant Partners LLC are Vinny Testaverde, a former University of Miami quarterback and 21-year veteran of the NFL, retiring after the 2007 season; and Tampa lawyers Todd Alley, managing partner of Alley, Clark & Greiwe, and Fred Ridley, a partner with Foley & Lardner.

Testaverde will attend the grand opening, Murphy said. Alley and Ridley also are expected at the events.

PDQ stands for "People Dedicated to Quality" or "Pretty Darn Quick" and its menu has just nine primary items: Chicken tenders (crispy or grilled), five types of made-to-order chicken sandwiches (crispy or grilled) and three hand-tossed salads with homemade dressings.

Sides include fries that are cut at the store (windows allow people to watch), fresh blueberry coleslaw and apple slices.

Shakes and other beverages round out the menu.

All the food is made fresh to order. The average check is $6.99.

Murphy said the next four Jacksonville area locations are in:

• Bartram Park, at 13702 Old St. Augustine Road, opening by Jan. 12.

• Mandarin, at an unspecified address at San Jose Boulevard and Race Track Road, to open by the end of May. She said there is a letter of intent for the site.

• West Jacksonville, at an unspecified site, to open by the end of August.

• South Jacksonville, at St. Johns Town Center, to open in about a year. She said there was a contract on the site, but did not say where.

Murphy said there will be 10 PDQ restaurants in Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties within five years and 20 within the decade.

She said in South Georgia, stores are planned in Brunswick, Savannah and Augusta.

There are stores planned to open next year in Ocala and Gainesville.

Restaurants cost $1.2 million to build. Counting land, furniture and equipment, the projects average $3 million when property is bought and $2 million when leased.

The investors are leasing the Beach/Hodges land and they bought the Bartram property.

The restaurants use 1 to 1.3 acres, are about 4,200 square feet, seat 96 inside and 64 either on a patio or in a sunroom, depending on the area.

During the hard-hat tour, Murphy noted that the open kitchen will allow patrons to watch food being prepared; that a "hospitality hut" staffed by a person takes drive-thru orders and the goal is a maximum 2 minutes from order-taking to delivery; that staff "line busters" with iPads will take orders when a line of vehicles forms; and that two windows in the back will allow views of employees hand-punching the machines that turn fresh potatoes into fries.

Murphy and PDQ Operating Partner Robbie Robinson, who will run the Beach/Hodges store, said there are no freezers or microwaves.

Murphy also said the restrooms are cleaned every 15 minutes and there also are additional hand-washing stations outside the restrooms for customer convenience.

Restaurant hours are 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Shakes and beverages are half-price 3-5 p.m. daily.

As of Friday, the Beach/Hodges restaurant had hired 78 of its 80 full- and part-time employees.

At that number, Murphy said the 20 Jacksonville area restaurants will generate 1,600 jobs.

Job openings are posted on Craigslist.com about six weeks before an opening. Bartram applications should start being accepted about Dec. 1. Josh Baker is the operating director at that store.

The posting for Beach/Hodges drew more than 1,300 applications as of Friday, Murphy said.

The 20 potential restaurants also represent a possible investment of $40 million to $60 million in construction, equipment, furniture and land leasing or acquisition. That's a significant hometown investment.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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