Watertown advances plans to build Popeyes at former Bob Evans site


WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — A chain restaurant known for its southern-style fried chicken is coming to the North Country.

During a Jefferson County Planning Board Meeting on Tuesday, July 27, county and town of Watertown officials discussed plans to build a Popeyes restaurant at the former Bob Evans restaurant site.

As this site is located just outside of the City of Watertown limits, the town of Watertown was responsible for planning the project. However, the project was then referred to the County Planning Board. The Board then discussed factors such as its close proximately to I-81, how it compares to local zoning laws and any reconfiguration required onsite.

According to Jefferson County Senior Planner Andy Nevin, the current plan is to tear down the former Bob Evans restaurant and replace it with a new Popeyes drive-thru. However, to accommodate, driveways will have to be reconfigured.

Additionally due to its proximity to the I-81 on-ramp, the restaurant will continue to share a driveway with the Ramada Inn next door. New plans for the building also featured the physical restaurant pushed back away from Arsenal Street to allow for easier traffic flow.

Watertown’s Popeye’s will have two menu boards behind the restaurant to allow for drive-thru services, 38 parking spots and over 40 seats inside to allow for onsite dining. The pole sign behind the restaurant will be replaced with the “Popeyes” logo, and an additional sign will be placed near the street.

Nevin shared that this project has the potential to attract more visitors to the region.

“I think it is exciting to have new businesses, especially at a vacant site,” Nevins said. “And with hesitancies brought on by the pandemic, I think people will be excited about the drive-thru feature. I think it makes it more of a destination the more options we have.”

There is an additional Popeye’s restaurant located on the Fort Drum installation. However, this is only accessible to those who are permitted on base.

Watertown will now advance forward with plans to add this fried chicken “haven” to the community. The timeline for deconstruction of the former Bob Evans has yet to be announced. A timeline for the project is still in the works.

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