Applebee’s may locate to Natchez

Published 12:05 am Saturday, August 22, 2015

NATCHEZ — Applebee’s might be eating good in a new neighborhood this fall — Natchez.

Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said he has been talking with representatives from the popular bar and grill about establishing a restaurant in Natchez.

During the Natchez Board of Aldermen’s last regular meeting, Brown asked board members, in an executive session, if they would support giving the restaurant a minor tax incentive in order to encourage the business locating to Natchez.

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Brown said the board’s answer was unanimous.

“The board wholeheartedly agreed,” Brown said. “We would waive any kind of tax, like real estate tax, during the construction period. This would help push the project across the finish line.”

Natchez City Planner Rico Giani said no formal plans for the restaurant have been submitted to the city yet, but the possible location for the restaurant is in the Belk department store parking lot at the Natchez Mall on John R. Junkin Drive.

Since the mall owns the lot where Applebee’s would be built, Giani said Applebee’s would purchase the real estate from the mall.

Giani said the restaurant would use approximately 1.7 acres of the mall parking lot.

“Belk has had some concerns that Applebee’s would take up some parking, which is true,” Giani said.

A possible remedy to the parking space issue, Giani said, would be for the mall and Applebee’s to share parking spaces.

“Belk customers could use Applebee’s parking and Applebee’s could use Belk’s,” Giani said. “They would spill into one another.”

Giani said he would take a survey of the mall parking lot some time next week to determine exactly how many spaces the Applebee’s would consume.

Other than parking, though, Giani said he doesn’t anticipate any other obstacles standing in the way of Applebee’s coming to Natchez.

“Of course, they still need to submit their structure and engineering plans to site plan review,” Giani said. “Then if that’s approved, they can begin construction.”

Brown said enticing well-known chain restaurants to Natchez has been a big priority for the city.

Other restaurants the city has reached out to, Brown said, are IHOP and Waffle House.

“More and more people are dining out,” Brown said. “And big chain restaurants, like Applebee’s, have that name recognition to attract people.”

Brown said no formal plans have been discussed yet concerning IHOP and Waffle House.

“We are not nearly as far along with them as we are with Applebee’s,” he said.

Giani said if plans are approved, Applebee’s could break ground as early as November.

“Really, since it’s going to be a cookie-cutter Applebee’s, all they have to do is copy and paste (construction) plans,” Giani said.