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Shoney's opens first-of-its-kind location at Sugarloaf Mills

Customers wait outside the Shoney’s at Sugarloaf Mills waiting to be seated after the grand opening celebration on Thursday. (Photo: Chris Stephens)

Customers wait outside the Shoney’s at Sugarloaf Mills waiting to be seated after the grand opening celebration on Thursday. (Photo: Chris Stephens)

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Customers Necole Watson, center, Natasha Freeman and Marquez Reed enjoy some of the freshly prepared food at the Shoney’s at Sugarloaf Mills on Thursday. (Photo: Chris Stephens)

DULUTH — For 67 years, Shoney’s restaurants have been found in cities and towns all over the country in stand-alone stores.

However, Thursday saw the company do something it had never done — open a location within a mall setting, providing cooked-to-order entrees, seasonal buffets, Shoney’s On The Go quick service and full liquor service.

“It’s really very exciting for us,” said Shoney’s chairman and CEO David Davoudpour. “It’s a stepping stone for our restaurant moving forward.”

The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce was also excited to welcome Shoney’s to the community as many of its members showed up for the grand opening.

“It’s great to have Shoney’s as a part of our community,” said Megan Lesko, account executive at the chamber “Hopefully, this move will bring even more business to the community.”

Located in the mall’s food court where Chili’s used to be, the location employs 70 people and offers visitors a new dining experience inside the mall.

“No longer will you have to come to the mall and eat once-frozen chicken or beef,” Davoudpour said. “All of our food will be fresh. Our chicken will be hand-breaded, our beef will be hand-seasoned … it will all be great food from a great menu.”

Davoudpour noted the full liquor service as well, saying this is the first Shoney’s to provide that option.

“We did test after test after test after test when we looked at all of the options we wanted to provide,” he said. “We had to be precise because we didn’t want to miss a thing.

“From day one, we’ve set a standard on this restaurant and there will be no excuses that we’re a new restaurant and that’s why mistakes are getting made. We wanted to be professional with everything from the get-go and I think that’s what we’ve done.”

Shoney’s director of marketing Damon Davoudpour also noted the freshness of the food for a great price.

“Take our burger for instance,” he said. “It’s a freshly made burger that costs you $6.99 here, and you get fries with it. At other restaurants, you’re likely having to pay a lot more than that.”

It took the restaurant five to six years to create the concept, but the CEO said it was well worth the time.

“We want people to know that Shoney’s is a place they can bring their family and it’s a kitchen they can trust,” David Davoudpour said. “Come in, sit down and relax, and enjoy all of our great food.”