Pepboys to replace Dickinson’s Garden Center

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 01:50 PM

Pepboys auto and tire center on Franklin: The owners of Dickinson’s Garden Center at 1510 E. Franklin St. in Chapel Hill have put their land up for sale, and a developer is looking to build an auto and tire center on the site.
Dickie Dickinson operates the business with his wife, Beverly Dickinson. He said it was started by his mother and father in 1952.
Dickinson said he and his wife are approaching retirement. Their son was in business with them for about 15 years, but had pursued an interest in water garden installation, and formed his own company. He said their daughter was their landscape designer for about eight or nine years, but has moved away and is expecting her second child.
“My wife and I are both are at retirement age,” he said. “There’s currently no one to take over the business. After a big family conference, we put the land up for sale.”
The land has been under contract since January of last year, he said. They haven’t known until this point what the third party was going to be building at the site.
“After the business is sold, I know that it will not be a garden center, we’ve known that for some time,” Dickinson said. “Because I don’t think the garden center fits the profile of the land value, and that sort of thing. It’s up to the buyer to determine what they want to put here.”
The company Lady Street Development has filed plans with the Town of Chapel Hill Planning Department to demolish the existing structures and build a 4,988-square-foot tire service center, and a 2,000-square-foot retail building.
A public information session was scheduled to be held at Town Hall Thursday evening. Ultimately, the site plan is expected go to the Chapel Hill Planning Board for approval. It could go before the board in April.

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Tomato Jake’s owners sell Chapel Hill business: A co-owner of Tomato Jake’s Pizzeria said he and his partner sold their Franklin Street business as per-person sales at the Chapel Hill location fell below their expectations.
Glen Gordon, co-owner of the independent pizza business, said he and his partner bought what was Franklin Street Pizza and Pasta in March, and sold the business in November. He said they lost money on the deal.
“We sold the business for less than half of what we paid for it in eight months,” Gordon said.
The location’s per person average sale was “way, way down,” Gordon said. Customers were ordering a slice of pizza and a cup of water, paying around $2.50 to $2.75 per person. The industry average is $7.25 per person, he said.
With rent for the location at 163 E. Franklin St. around $8,000 per month range, he said the business lost money each month it was there.
Gordon said he believes that students’ on-campus dining options have improved, and that students are using their UNC One Cards for on-campus dining rather than spending their money on Franklin Street.
He also believes the state of the economy is affecting consumer spending.
“I’m not sour on Franklin Street, I’m not sour on … the restaurant business,” he said. “But I am sour a little bit on the fact that Franklin Street is a very tough street to do business on, and you wouldn’t think it would be. It’s got a big (population) … a hospital a mile away … there’s a lot of people in Chapel Hill.”
Gordon said he and his partner had wanted to be on Franklin Street since they moved here about seven years ago. Their first restaurant opened in Durham’s Renaissance Village near The Streets at Southpoint in December 2005.
That Tomato Jake’s location is going “gangbusters,” Gordon said. Their 2012 sales were up 12.6 percent compared with the prior year, he said.
“In this economy, to be up double digits, is phenomenal,” he said. “We did a lot of things in 2012 to try to make food better,” he added.
Gordon said they sold the Chapel Hill business to a man who plans to open an Asian restaurant in the space.

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