Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen in Athens has been closed for some time, but Chipotle Mexican Grill could be taking up residence in the building on U.S. 72. The popular chain has requested a zoning variance for parking at the site but has not submitted an official site plan.

Athens is getting a new location of the popular Mexican-inspired restaurant chain Chipotle — maybe.

While nothing is official at this point, the company does have a preliminary site plan in with the City of Athens and has a zoning variance request going before the Board of Zoning Adjustment during the board's Sept. 17 meeting.

The request regards the number of required parking spaces by city ordinance at the address 1289 U.S. 72 East, formerly the site of a Dairy Queen.

According to Athens City Engineer Michael Griffin, the company has not submitted an official site plan to this point, but they do have a conceptual plan in place. He said it is common for businesses to take care of zoning variance requests before submitting an official site plan in order to help get their “ducks in a row.” Any future site plan would have to be approved by the Planning Commission.

The News Courier reached out to Chipotle's corporate operations Tuesday. In an official response, a member of the company's marketing team said they "do not have information to share regarding a location in Athens," but invited The News Courier to check back in the coming months.

However, a separate member of Chipotle's corporate team told The News Courier that the company has listed in their system a target open date for Athens sometime in February 2021. An advertisement for a general manager position at an Athens Chipotle location was also available on the online job board Indeed. The posting dates back to August.

Mayor Ronnie Marks told The News Courier it is his understanding the company is in the process of proposing a location in Athens at the former Dairy Queen.

“It is always exciting to add a new business,” Marks said. “It would give people more (dining) options.”

The News Courier will have more information as it becomes available.

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