CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Business

June 21, 2006

Guthrie's opening next month

Less than two years ago, Joel Windham was vice president of Human Resources at St. Vincent Hospital.

At the time, owning his own restaurant was the furthest thing from his mind. Personnel changes, though, required him to head in a different direction. It didn’t take long for Windham to catch on, and within 18 months he had successfully run a 60-seat cafe and a Starbucks.

Windham’s success led him to Cullman, where he is putting the finishing touches on Guthrie’s, a franchise chicken tender restaurant.

“I really liked (running a restaurant),” the Guthrie’s owner said. “So I took all my savings and and put it into (Guthrie’s).”

The new Guthrie’s, which opens July 5, is located off U.S. Highway 31 next door to Lupe’s and across from Cullman Shopping Center. Windham picked this location hoping it will draw all sorts of people.

“Our target market will be the people at the shopping center, high schoolers and the downtown lunch crowd,” Windham said.

Success won’t come easy, though. Numerous franchises, including Sneaky Pete’s, Quizno’s and most recently Gus’ Hot Dogs, have failed at the same location. However, Windham is confident his restaurant will succeed based on good food and excellent customer service.

“The food already has a reputation,” Windham said. “We have to make sure we hire the right people.”

His dedication to the success of the restaurant is evident by the $120,000 spent to revamp the existing building. Windham has also begun to interview potential employees, hiring five already. He hopes to have a full staff of 21 by the time the doors open to the public. Each of the employees will go through 12 hours of extensive customer service training. The restaurant will seat 56, but Windham estimates the majority of business, about 60 percent, to come from the drive through. In anticipation of large drive through crowds, Guthrie’s is installing a state of the art digital drive through system, an upgrade from the more commonly used analog drive throughs.

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