Del Taco to occupy old Shoney’s space on 280

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By Denise DuBois

It’s official. Del Taco is coming to Phenix City. Clay Gullatt is bringing a second restaurant to the old Shoney’s location on the 280 Bypass. He first opened his Columbus Del Taco in 2014. 

“I bought the franchise rights to Columbus and Muscogee County and Lee and Russell County at the same time. Instead of Auburn or Opelika for the second location, I thought it would be a better move to go to Phenix City,” Gullatt said. “It has great numbers with Quick Service Restaurants (QSR). Phenix City has the number one Krystal’s and at one time had the number one Zaxby’s. Phenix City supports QSRs very well.” 

He looked for a long time to find the perfect location in Phenix City. There were things to consider: car count, space that fits a QSR, etc. Then he found Shoney’s. 

“It was available,” Gullatt said. “It had sink hole problems in the past, but we were able to get past that.”

He has been working on the property for more than a year getting different agencies’ approval, but he was able to announce last week that it’s official. Demolition of the building starts this week and construction should begin next week. Pending the weather, Gullatt hopes to be open by the end of May, but it could be early June. 

Del Taco isn’t the first restaurant Gullatt has taken on. He brought Little Caesar’s back to the area many years ago. After eventually selling the franchise, Del Taco was next on his list of childhood restaurants he wanted to see back in the area. 

“I grew up in Phenix City as a child and missed the brands. I remember going to the skate center as a child and the Del Taco in the Food Giant center. I remember them being good and wanted to give them a second go’round,” Gullatt recollected. 

Even behind the big signs, Gullatt hopes the community remembers he’s a local guy. The restaurants are and will be locally owned and operated. 

“That should mean a lot to the community. The dollars are going back to the community and to someone who is from here,” he said. 

Gullatt is married to Terri, and they have two daughters who attended Glenwood school.