Culver's in progress

Culver’s Restaurant on Hamilton Crossing Drive in Alcoa is set to open mid-March.

Alcoa’s long-anticipated Culver’s Restaurant off Hamilton Crossing Drive is less than two months away from opening its doors to the eating public.

Local franchise owner Ron Dresen told The Daily Times by phone Tuesday the fast-food/sit-down spot, known for its butter burgers and frozen custard, would open mid-March.

“We’re about three weeks away from having a firm date, but right now it’s scheduled for March 15,” Dresen said.

First, he has to interview and hire between 65-70 employees, adding them to the seven to eight workers from his Knoxville Culver’s location — most of whom are Blount County residents — to serve in management positions.

He posted open positions online mid-January and already has about 20 applications.

“We’ve gotten a really good response,” Dresen said.

Potential employees aren’t the only ones enthusiastic about the new Culver’s.

Dresen took his designs back to the Alcoa Planning Commission during summer 2020 to add a second drive-thru lane, expecting more vehicle-order enthusiasm than initially: COVID-19 played a part in that decision.

Though the site is well into grading operations, crews have yet to place a parking lot or any roads at the restaurant.

But all will wrap in the coming months, Dresen said, adding he will open the dining room for this location — a trademark for the chain — while keeping COVID-19 social distancing standards in place.

He expects even those restrictions won’t keep people away.

The Alcoa Culver’s may not have the largest opening in the company’s history because of the pandemic, but it has potential, Dresen said.

“When we opened up Knoxville, I didn’t do much advertising,” Dresen said. He put up a marquee out front and that was it. Local news ran a small online post. He was still swamped.

“I think it’s going to be busy,” he said of the Alcoa location, on a hill across from Rural King and somewhat adjacent to the Hamilton Crossing shopping center. It makes it a likely candidate for hefty business, Dresen said.

Alcoa planning staff was cautious about the traffic Culver’s could cause and made Dresen do a second study after he revised his preliminary plans.

The only negative thing about the site, he added, was people driving south on U.S. Highway 129 might not notice his building.

To that end, he said he wants to put up a Culver’s billboard near Cracker Barrel.

Follow @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter for more from city government reporter Andrew Jones.

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