The franchisees of the Georgia-based locations of marijuana-themed sandwich shop Cheba Hut will begin looking at real estate properties in Athens at the end of January, according to Seth Larsen, the restaurant’s chief relationship officer.
The restaurant, which serves over 30 sandwiches named after marijuana strains, stated in a June 2019 press release that it planned to open two locations to the University of Georgia area by fall 2020. The release shortly followed the company’s announcement that it would open its first Georgia location in Atlanta by fall 2019.
Though the development of the Athens locations have slowed due to a slow-moving process of obtaining permits for Cheba Hut’s Atlanta storefront, the brand is still “definitely coming to Athens,” Larsen said.
The restaurant is still targeting a date in fall 2020, but an opening in the first quarter of 2021 “would also be a homerun,” Larsen said.
The location will be determined by franchisees Josh Burdick and Justin Beatty, who are in the process of opening Cheba Hut’s Atlanta location on Marietta Street. Scott Jennings, the founder of Cheba Hut, told The Red & Black in June 2019 that the company was scouting locations on College Avenue and Clayton Street.
“We don’t pretend we know a market or area more than the people that live there,” Larsen said.
To ensure multi-ownership, the Cheba Hut company franchises locations in “three packs,” which requires franchisers to open three individual storefronts in their chosen area. Both Burdick and Beatty are committed to ensuring Athens will be the home of their second and perhaps third Georgia location, Larsen said.
Larsen explains the company “plays really well in college markets” and aims to align itself with cities rich in arts and music culture, which “are both prevalent in Athens.”
“Athens is a perfect fit for Cheba Hut, we all know that,” Larsen said. “I think that from 10,000 feet, that city can hold at least two Cheba Huts.”
Cheba Hut currently operates 29 locations throughout the United States and celebrated its 22 year anniversary on Jan. 20.