EAST COUNTY — As the president of Blackrock Development Holdings, seeing the bigger picture is Tim Vining’s job.
Where others see a vacant parking lot, he sees opportunity. Currently, as a developer for MVP Restaurant Partners, Vining looks for places to house the company’s two restaurants, People Dedicated to Quality (PDQ) and Wow! That’s Fresh (WTF). The casual quick-service restaurants specialize in fried chicken, and burgers, salads and pizza, respectively.
In his search for opportunity, one East County location has captured Vining’s attention for more than 10 years.
Vining has had his sights fixed on the 10 acres in front of Braden River High School, located at the northeast corner of Caruso Road and State Road 70, since his days as an executive for W.G. Mills — the former East County construction firm that built local landmarks such as Woodland, The Community Church, Lake Vista Residences Condominiums and Braden River High School.
“I remember when the Manatee County School District acquired the property from the University of Florida,” Vining said. “When the district decided to sell the land, I thought it was a great price and that it was worth it.”
After closing on the $2 million property May 31, 24/7 Development Holdings LLC, parent company of Blackrock Development, plans to bring its next PDQ location to the doorstep of Manatee Technical Institute’s State Road 70 campus and Braden River High.
Vining expects to start construction on the site by the end of the year, with a 2015 opening. Vining must acquire the appropriate zoning from the Manatee County Planning Commission for the high school-adjacent property. The parcel is zoned for future land use general commercial, however it’s also zoned for agriculture purposes.
In Vining’s search for real estate, he says locations near schools fit well with the restaurants’ model. Vining sees PDQ becoming a familiar brand to the students in classrooms in his new location’s backyard.
“I’ve found that for our fast, casual concepts, proximity to high schools and adult education centers has benefited our restaurants,” Vining said. “I think people will be welcoming to (PDQ); the property is conducive to restaurants and retail.”
In line with this strategy, Blackrock Development also purchased a 1.64-acre parcel near Bayshore High School, which may also become a PDQ.
Vining hopes to launch partnerships with the educational facilities and to work with MTI’s culinary students, in the form of menu development and other educational projects.
As they approved the purchase of the land, School Board Chairwoman Julie Aranibar and other board members welcomed the addition of a restaurant or retail facility. Because of the land’s proximity to two schools, certain land use restrictions apply, including businesses “adult in nature,” such as casinos or nightclubs.
The East County property marks the second location of the chain located on State Road 70. Construction has started on the other location off of State Road 70, near Walmart.
PDQ has six locations open in the Tampa Bay market, with six more under construction.
MVP Restaurant Partners, run by former Outback Steakhouse co-founder Bob Basham and Nick Reader, former chief financial officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, created the two restaurant concepts. The company plans to have 16 additional locations open statewide before the end of the year, Vining said.
PDQs span from states such as Nevada and Texas, to the Carolinas and Florida.
The fast and casual concept differs form the traditional McDonald’s or Burger Kind fast food style of dining, Vining said. The chain prides itself on its hand-cut french fries, hand-spun milkshakes, salads and sandwiches made to order.
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].
By the numbers
1 — Number of PDQ restaurants each in Alabama, South Carolina and Texas
3 — Number of PDQ restaurants in the Sarasota/Bradenton area once the S.R. 70 and Lena Road locations open
22 — Total number of PDQ locations
4,300 — In square feet, average size of a PDQ restaurant
NEW PDQ RESTAURANT TAKES SHAPE
EAST COUNTY — Construction crews have erected the concrete skeleton of the area’s newest drive-thru restaurant at the northwest corner of Lena Road and Interstate 75 and State Road 70, just east of Interstate 75.
There, Tampa-based The Sinclair Group has started construction on a PDQ (People Dedicated to Quality) restaurant. The chain is known for its fresh chicken tenders, sandwiches and salads and homemade sauces and dressings. It also offers fresh-cut French fries, hand-spun milkshakes and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Patrons will have the options to dine in, carry out or use the drive-thru once the restaurant opens sometime in September. PDQ also offers catering services.
PDQ has 22 locations in five states, including 12 in Florida. It opened a restaurant in September on Tamiami Trail, in Sarasota.
“In all of our locations, the community is important,” said Jeff Kamis, chief marking and public relations officer for PDQ. “That area is a great community for families, but it’s also very much expanding from the business side as well. It’s exciting to see that development.”
Kamis said PDQ likes to get involved in the community through company initiatives, such as spirit and family nights, through which causes or organizations can raise donations, among others.
Outback Steakhouse co-founder Bob Basham and Nick Reader, CEO of Basham’s private investment firm MVP Holdings, purchased the PDQ site in July.
— Pam Eubanks