A company based in southeastern North Carolina known especially for its burgers plans to open one of its 1950s-style diners in Lenoir in September.
Hwy55 will be next to the Lowe’s Home Improvement store on U.S. 321, said Neal Dennis, who with his wife, April, oversees the expansion of Hwy55 restaurants across western North Carolina.
Neal said that he and April were exploring the region, and when they passed through Lenoir, they liked what they saw.
“We were driving all over the western part of the state, and we kept coming through that intersection, right there where everything is at. And we just fell in love with the town,” he said.
April said that they were house searching in the region, and Lenoir felt right.
“It was the perfect town. We were house-searching as well, so we were traveling to a bunch of small towns, and Lenoir, it just had that family vibe,” she said. “Everywhere we went and talked to people, we could feel that this was not your big town. It was your small hometown that people really cared about their neighbor and knew each other. We just thought it was a really good vibe for us.”
While Hwy55 especially touts its freshly made burgers, the menu offers much more, including cheesesteaks, frozen custard, milk shakes, fries and made-to-order salads, Neal said.
“It’s basically all-American comfort food,” he said.
While the restaurant will have a drive-thru, inside it will be meant to feel like an old-fashioned diner where servers come to the table, get to know customers and serve the food. The food will be prepared in an area visible to customers.
The building in Lenoir will be one of the chain’s brand-new designs, Neal said.
“It’s really a wonderful-looking building with lots of glass,” he said.
The couple purchased a house in Lenoir, and they intend to connect with community organizations after the restaurant opens.
“One of the things that we love about coming into town is connecting with different groups and kind of being that community point for the youth groups to have their luncheon or their dinner or the Boy Scouts to do something in the community … or the Girl Scouts to sell cookies with us, so we’re going to be looking for ways to connect ... with the community. We’re real big about that,” April said.
Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.