Belpre welcomes future of fast food

BELPRE — Burger King has opened in Belpre, the first in the city and the ninth in the chain of the local franchisees.

The restaurant opened Monday for a special introductory event for all employees of the restaurants under Charton Management, local officials and first responders from the Belpre police and fire departments, said Matt Herridge, who with Grant Wharton are partners in the company.

Burger King is located between Wendy’s and Boxer’s Bed and Biscuit on Washington Boulevard.

“We purchased the lot a couple of years ago, and are glad to finally join the Belpre community,” Herridge said.

Nearby are the Civitan soccer fields, which factored into the decision on the design of the restaurant, he said.

The design, called the Garden Grill, takes advantage of an open area in the center of the restaurant and other areas where tables are large enough to hold eight people. Free-standing tables can also be moved and joined together, Herridge said. The larger tables can accommodate teams of players or their families, he said.

“We built the restaurant from the point of view that this would be a great destination for groups,” Herridge said.

At about 4,000 square feet, the restaurant seats more than 100 people, Herridge said. Seventy-five spaces are available for parking, he said.

“This is one the larger restaurants we have ever built with over 100 seats and 75 parking spots,” Herridge said.

The typical Burger King restaurant does 65 percent of its business in the drive-thru, he said. Because of the spaciousness of the design and other accouterments, Herridge expects a higher percentage of sales from customers eating in the dining room.

Newer state-of-the-art technologies have also been utilized in the design of the facility, both in the preparation and serving areas, he said.

Digital menu boards are available inside and at the drive thrus, of which there are two lanes because of the size of the restaurant, and the drink dispenser features a large video screen from which to make a selection of soft drink, including the option of a flavor shot, Herridge said.

“The restaurant is very technologically focused and up to date,” he said.

Among the notables at the special observatory on Monday was Belpre Mayor Michael Lorentz. He enjoyed himself.

“This is the nicest store I think I have ever been in,” Lorentz said.

Lorentz not only cited the proximity to the soccer fields, but the convenience of going to Belpre to eat and shop.

“In my mind it’s another reason to cross the bridge and come to Belpre,” he said.

Charton Management operates six Burger Kings in Parkersburg, Belpre and Marietta, and one in Fairplain, Athens and Cambridge.

“This is No. 9,” Herridge said.

Burger King in Belpre will employ 40 people, fulltime and parttime, he said. The manager is Ord Delaney, director of operations for the company. The district manager is Molly Linsinbigler and the restaurant general manager is Laura Conant.

The hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. to midnight on weekends.