Bob Evans chain files building permit in Cranberry for restaurant


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The Bob Evans Restaurant chain is expected to begin construction soon on a 155-seat restaurant along Route 322 in Cranberry Township.

The Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant and food products company filed a building permit this week in Cranberry Township. The estimated construction cost is pegged at $560,000.

"I understand they want to be ready for the holiday crowd so I expect work will start soon," said Terry Ray, zoning and code enforcement officer for the township.

In another business development, Home Depot is reportedly looking at two sites to open a store - the former Ames Department store location in the Cranberry Mall and another property adjacent to the Staples store along Route 322.

Construction plans for the Bob Evans Restaurant, a home-style and family-oriented dining facility, call for a building with a seating capacity of 155. The restaurant will be built on a 1.5-acre tract and will have an 86-spot parking lot.

Ray said the restaurant location is along Route 322 between McDonald's Restaurant and the multi-tenant Kimberly Plaza strip mall.

"As you turn into Wal-Mart, the (new) restaurant will be on the right side," he said.

Bob Evans Farms Inc., founded in 1963, owns and operates more than 520 restaurants in 22 states and lists more than 35,000 employees. There are 27 Bob Evans Restaurants in Pennsylvania, including one in Erie and one in Butler.

A company spokesman said construction is expected to start within a few weeks and the work typically takes "four to six months" to complete.

Meanwhile, Home Depot is still in the process of deciding whether to locate a new store in the township.

Earlier this summer, the company, billed as "the world's largest home improvement retailer," took an option on vacant land next to the Staples store on Route 322. Sewage and water services, which now do not extend to that property, are among the issues being considered by the national retailer.

However, Home Depot is also considering leasing the former Ames Department store quarters in the Cranberry Mall. That anchor store location has been empty since the Ames chain shut down operations in October 2002.

Kathy Bailey, Cranberry Mall manager, declined to identify potential tenants for the Ames space but said there is interest in that mall corner from a number of companies.

"We are looking at several major name retailers for that spot," said Bailey. "As for a timetable, it probably will be sometime in 2004."

The Atlanta-based Home Depot has more than 1,500 stores in North America.

Meanwhile, a Pittsburgh developer whose building claims include Wal-Mart, the Kimberly Plaza Shopping Center and others along the same commercial stretch of Route 322 is expected to start work soon on a $1.5 million project in that vicinity.

A spokesman for Jim Aiello, a partner in JRA Development, said Tuesday the Cranberry Township project "is still on track." Known as Cranberry Plaza II, the mall will offer several office and shop sites in a 24,000-square-foot building, a drive-through coffee shop in a second structure, and a free-standing ice cream shop. The multi-tenant building will include a regional Social Security office, a restaurant and retailers.

Earlier, Aiello said he anticipates the new mini-mall businesses will provide more than 75 full-time jobs.

Building plans for Aiello's Cranberry Plaza II were approved by the Venango County Planning Commission in late April. No building permit has been filed with the township.

There may be more JRA-related development in the works since the company owns two other vacant lots in the Wal-Mart plaza area. Those lots may be used for an apartment complex, Aiello said last spring.