Wharf Seafood breaks ground in Clanton

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, July 13, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Wharf Casual Seafood is coming to Clanton, and ground was broken for the future site on July 10. While ground was broken, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and director Kenneth Boswell announced it will be issuing a grant to the city of Clanton to pay for the restaurant’s dirt pad to be installed, the water and sewer and the road that will be constructed in the lot as well.

ADECA contributed the funds to the city of Clanton due to the growth of the job force in its community.

“They are doing it because of job creation,” Clanton Mayor Jeff Mims said.

The lot sits on 7th Street South in Clanton between Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen and San Marcos Mexican Restaurant. The state of Alabama will not allow an acceleration and deceleration to be created on 7th Street South because cars would get stacked out onto the road after turning into the parking lot if there is a backup. The road will cost over $100,000, and ADECA is paying for it through grants to the city.

Instead, the city is going to build a road that will enter from Poplar Springs Road and create a cul-de-sac and exit back out onto Poplar Springs Road. This will create four separate lots on the land, starting with Wharf Seafood right on 7th Street South beside Popeye’s. The three other lots are in early talks to bring other businesses in, and once those lots are sold, the revenue generated will pay for the land and surpass the amount the city paid for it putting them in the positive.

Also, each time the city sells one of the other three lots to an incoming business, ADECA will pay for the dirt pad to put in there as well.

“If you think about all the jobs we are getting, plus all the revenue,” Mims said. “That gives me more money to go out and pave more roads or do more infrastructure work.”

Mims said he wants to have new restaurants and eateries in the other three lots on the land as opposed to something like tire stores that Clanton already has.

There are currently nine Wharf Seafood restaurants in operation, and the Clanton location, along with Sylacauga and Millbrook, are the next locations on their plans for expansion. President and CEO Noah Griggs Jr. said that Wharf wants to build 20 plus locations across Alabama. Wharf first opened its doors in 1986. Griggs began working with Wharf in the role eight years ago.

“There has been a lot of work behind the scenes to get to this point (of breaking ground),” Griggs said. “We have been working with the mayor and city council for eight to nine months, and it just takes time when you have a project of this magnitude. We are excited, they have been great partners to work with. Without their involvement and support, it would have been a longshot for us to get here, but because they have helped, we are going to give the community a great restaurant, good food and service. We are excited.”

Griggs said strategically, Wharf builds out their new locations from a central point, which is Tallassee. From there, he connects the dots and builds new locations within 30 minutes to one hour of each other so they can support one another.

“We realized we are the perfect fit for these middle-sized markets,” Griggs said. “Restaurant options are limited, and there is a lot of BBQ and a lot of Mexican restaurants, but it is hard to find good seafood away from the coast.”

Grading of the land for the restaurant is expected to be complete in the coming weeks and construction is expected to begin in the fall.