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Steak 'n Shake on the way
Eatery to hire 130 workers to start
Steak Web
A tractor dumps gravel into a trench Monday on the construction site of the new Steak 'n Shake, next to Cracker Barrel. - photo by JAMES HEALY/staff

      Ground is broken and construction is well under way for a new Steak 'n Shake restaurant in Statesboro Crossing at the corner of Brannen Street and Veterans Memorial Parkway.
      Scheduled to open its doors in the latter part of this May, the Statesboro Steak 'n Shake is the latest entrant into this area's ever expanding restaurant scene.
      Local entrepreneur and former restaurant owner Richard Toms was hired by the development group as director of operations for this restaurant and two other locations that are slated to be built in Savannah at the end of this year.
       Atlanta business executive Mike Heyden is an owner and serves as spokesperson for the development group. Heyden has ties to Statesboro through his son Derek Heyden - a safety on Georgia Southern's football team for the past four years.
       "My son would come home from school and practically eat every meal at Steak 'n Shake," Heyden said. "He kept saying, 'Dad, a Steak 'n Shake would do so well in Statesboro,' so a partner of mine and I started looking into opening a franchise. After much research, we decided to build one there. We are very pleased, and feel this a great opportunity."
       Heyden thinks the Steak 'n Shake concept is positioned perfectly for this market.
       "It functions like a full service restaurant, but with fast food prices," he said. "You have a great quality product, great wait staff, and the service is very quick. It is a perfect mix. There will be dine in and drive thru service."
       Toms said it will take 130 employees to staff the 24-hour restaurant.
       "We will have five management staff, and then an additional 125 employees or so," Toms said. For the first few weeks we will be open from 10 a.m. until midnight. Once everything is settled and running well, we will be open 24 hours a day."
       Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce president Phyllis Thompson said the construction of the new Steak 'n Shake is part of what appears to be a trend towards economic recovery for the region.
       "For the last several months, we have had new businesses building and opening in this area," she said. "This is encouraging in that the business community is beginning to show signs of growth. I feel very positive about that."
       Todd Manack, owner of Manack Signature Properties in Statesboro, was instrumental in the sale of property to developers in Statesboro Crossing. Manack said there are very few lots left to be sold.
       "Basically, in the initial development, there are three lots left," he said. "Things are going very well in Statesboro Crossing, and I know everyone is pleased. There is some additional property left on the end where the Olive Garden is located, and that is for sale as well. Steak 'n Shake should be a wonderful addition."
       Steak 'n Shake was founded in 1934 in Normal, Illinois by Gus Belt. For more than 75 years, the company's name has been symbolic of its heritage. The word "steak" stood for Steakburgers, and the term "shake" stood for hand-dipped milk shakes. There are nearly 500 Steak 'n Shake restaurants in 22 states.
       According to the parent company's website, there are more than 275,000 guests served daily in Steak 'n Shake restaurants, 100 million Steakburgers served annually, and 50 million milk shakes enjoyed each year.
       Toms said his management staff is hired, but 126 positions remain to be filled.
       "I can be contacted by email, and I will be happy to forward an application for anybody that is interested in working with us," he said.
       Toms can be reached via email at richard.toms@theshakegroup.com.