GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County has not been immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many local small businesses and some larger chains feeling the pinch. Residents have lost their jobs or been furloughed to deal with the financial constraints created by the recently gradual ending of the shutdown.
There is hope, though, for the economic recovery of the city, and the continued its continued development with more and more companies finding it a welcoming landing and expansion spot.
One of the most recent is Huddle House. The Atlanta-based southern diner franchise will be coming to Green Cove Springs and plans to bring multiple locations.
“In 2020, we’ve fought hard to maintain our place in our communities and be a spot [where] locals can depend on, no matter what. That commitment to the customers we serve has paid off, and now we’re ready to resume our strategic growth efforts in priority markets, particularly Green Cove Springs,” said Tim Linderman, Chief Development Officer of Huddle House via press release. “Green Cove Springs is a natural next step for Huddle House as we look to grow post-COVID in Florida. We know the community is eager to welcome new businesses, and the available real estate and local consumer base of Green Cove Springs is a perfect fit for us.”
Huddle House will be part of an increase in growth for Green Cove Springs. Dunkin is preparing to open a new shop across from the Clay County Courthouse, and county commissioners recently approved the creation of the Sandridge Community Development District for a 290.5-acre development.
Huddle House will bring jobs, in addition to some franchise opportunities, which will also help the local economy to rebound. They expect to build multiple locations but will start with one and evaluate future establishments based on the first.
“We see strong growth and development opportunities in GCS due to the construction of the First Coast Expressway. We feel confident about the addition of at least one Huddle House location for GCS at this time. Once the store opens and is operating, we can revisit additional opportunities if we feel it necessary,” said Linderman.
With a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus in Florida (some of the highest single-day totals recently recorded), there is some concern that this could derail the plan. Linderman and Huddle House has considered this.
“We are carefully monitoring all developments in Florida in regards to COVID-19,” he said. “Our restaurants are equipped with detailed, multi-level health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including strict personal hygiene requirements for our staff and dining room guidelines to maintain social distancing. With these protocols in place, we do not anticipate a need for a slowdown to our growth strategy.”
Despite the conditions created by the pandemic, Huddle House has remained relatively stable.
“The great thing about business owners and Huddle House franchisees is that they are resilient and determined,” said Linderman. “They find ways to adapt. We find ways to adapt. Takeout and pickup will continue to be a growing part of our future business. We’re seeing opportunities to continue bringing new Huddle House locations to markets that a good fit, like Green Cove Springs.”
Chances are, Green Cove Springs will feel the same way about Huddle House.