Tuscaloosa businessman Stan Pate is looking to bring Alabama's own Guthrie's Chicken back to the chain's former home on Skyland Boulevard a stone's throw from the interstate bridge recently named in his father's memory.

Pate appeared before a committee of the Tuscaloosa City Council last week to ask them to consider incentivizing the real estate magnate and his Swedish business partners to develop a Guthrie's in the same space between Hardee's and Taco Bell where one closed in 2015.

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Pate told the city's finance committee that the last Guthrie's to occupy the lot was one of a few that were sold off during tough financial times almost a decade ago, but he is confident that the brand will succeed if a new restaurant is built in the same space at 819 Skyland Boulevard.

Pate said the Zaxby's restaurant on land he owns further west on Skyland in front of the CMX movie theater is one of the brand's Top 10 most successful in the country and that Guthrie's should find the same response down the road a ways.

"I believe that ultimately this store will be one of the highest-performing stores in the Guthrie’s chain," Pate told the committee. "That’s the goal and we usually reach our goals."

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)


Pate said it is also not lost on him that the site for the proposed Guthrie's is in the shadow of the Luther Stancel Pate III Memorial Bridge, named in his father's honor earlier this year.

"Them being willing to name that bridge after my father, that sets a dang high standard for me," Pate said.

Pate asked the council to utilize a seldom-mentioned municipal program called Invest Tuscaloosa to consider abating sales tax and ad valorem tax generated by the new restaurant and to waive the city's fees for some permits required to build new Guthries there.

Invest Tuscaloosa was proposed in 2017 to incentivize developers to combat blight, create jobs, and provide "catalytic enhancements and place-making change" to areas of the city in need or revitalization.

"Sometimes in the economic development world, we feel like a plumber and all that’s in our toolbox is a hammer," said Barkley Garrett, Vice President of Economic & Community Development at the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. "We see great projects but we don’t necessarily always have the tools to incentivize those projects appropriately, so five years ago the mayor, the council and staff at that time had the wisdom and foresight to create the Invest Tuscaloosa program."

Garrett said the proposed Guthrie's checks most of the boxes laid out in the Invest Tuscaloosa plan - it will develop a currently vacant lot, remove blight, enhance the Exit 73 "gateway" into Tuscaloosa, create construction and food service jobs and more.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

The council is being asked to abate all sales tax generated by the restaurant in its first 10 years and all ad valorem tax for the first three years. Those numbers begin to slide down over time, but that point is almost moot as the Invest Tuscaloosa program only allows the abatement of $1 million in taxes, and the new Guthrie's should reach that threshold sometime around its twelfth or thirteenth year.

attachment-Invest Proposal

The council will consider granting the abatement at the next meeting this coming Tuesday, July 11th. Pate said if things get going very soon, the new restaurant could open by the end of 2023, although they may choose to wait a little longer and get open after the traditionally difficult months of January and February.

Maddox, one of just two elected officials in the room who held his office when the Invest Tuscaloosa program was created in 2017, said Pate's proposal "fits right in" to its mission.

"Once we clear this, we’re excited to move on to the McFarland Mall," Maddox told Pate last week.

For more on the project as it develops, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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