Shoney’s building available for lease, but owner doesn’t want to sell, Shoney’s director says

Published 4:28 pm Monday, June 12, 2023

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NATCHEZ  – The owner of the building that formerly housed the Shoney’s restaurant in Natchez is seeking a tenant to lease the property.

Located at 26 Seargent S. Prentiss Drive, the restaurant has been closed since the early days of the pandemic. The owner of the building also operated the former restaurant.

“We are Shoney’s corporate, but the property is privately held,” said Richard Johnson, Shoney’s director of operations based in Nashville. “Just recently, we got a realtor involved in trying to lease the property. If someone makes the right offer to lease it at some point, fine, but we have no plans to reopen it as a Shoney’s at this time. But that’s not a definite hard no.”

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Johnson told Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson the owner is not interested in selling the property. Johnson did not disclose the owner’s name.

Shoney’s is seeking approximately $10,000 per month for the lease of the building.

The restaurant closed during the pandemic and the building has fallen into disrepair, so much so that it has become an eyesore.

“We are very grateful to the owners of the Shoney’s building for finally making some efforts to clean up the property and to make sure that it meets at least the minimal standards of the city,” Gibson said. “It is no secret the Shoney’s building was on our adjudication list, but since then, they have removed an awning that had fallen in the front of the building, cut the grass and trimmed the bushes and they have committed to keeping the property up.”

Gibson said he hopes the building will eventually be offered for sale.

“I can’t blame anyone for being reluctant to sell property in Natchez right now given the fact that the city is doing so well and the future looks good here. At the same time, I’m hopeful that anyone who holds property in Natchez, if they don’t have plans to develop that property, will make it available to people who would develop it.

“I know a number of people right now who are very interested in not leasing it, but purchasing the Shoney’s property. I hope eventually — sooner rather than later — we can see that happen,” Gibson said. “We are working with a number of property owners and developers now on incentives and we would be happy to have that conversation with the owner of Shoney’s or any individuals interested in bringing business there. The traffic count there can’t be beat. What is it they say about real estate? It’s all about location, location, location.”