Cookout construction continues on Elk Avenue

After three years of waiting, construction on a Cookout location in Elizabethton has officially begun, and workers are working seven days a week to get the property done.

Elizabethton City Planner Jon Hartman said the step comes after the company finalized its paperwork in 2016.

“The permit is good for three years,” Hartman said. “They went for reapproval in February or March.”

When the paperwork first finalized in 2016, Cookout spent three years with no visible progress towards demolishing the Long John Silvers that originally stood on the property. A couple months after the reapproval, however, Cookout went ahead and cleared the site.

Now, a few weeks after that point, the exterior of the building is coming along quickly.

“We are just happy to provide this amenity,” Hartman said. “We are glad to see new businesses coming in.”

He said his department works on many projects like this on a regular basis, working to provide new avenues to bring in local revenue to Elizabethton, but the Cookout project in particular has brought significant attention to Hartman throughout the process.

“We always see a certain level of excitement,” he said. “People were waiting outside the Dairy Queen in lawn chairs when it opened.”

Until this location opens, the nearest Cookout is near East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, roughly 15 to 20 minutes away.

“It is like Christmas,” Hartman said. “You wait, and wait, and wait; and you see the wrapped box under the tree three weeks before Christmas.”

He said this level of excitement towards a project is one of the benefits of his job.

“It is always on paper, and then you see it in real life,” Hartman said. “You are glad you can do this for your community.”

Just because the building itself is rapidly progressing does not mean the restaurant is close to opening, however. There is still the matter of building inspections, parking lots and entrances and exits to the property, which resides on a small hill next to Traveller’s Inn on Elk Avenue.

Currently, Hartman said Cookout has not unveiled an official opening date, though the residents of Elizabethton are eagerly looking forward to it.

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