Paulding could see wide variety of new dining options open soon

Paulding Countians by the end of the year could have a number of new dining options available in both the main retail area in Hiram and other places countywide.

From Georgia-grown and Tex-Mex to deli sandwiches, chicken wings, breakfast food, cookies and ice cream, there will be something for every taste.


Great American Cookies / Marble Slab Creamery is planned for an Oct. 8 opening at 4484 Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway in the Paulding Exchange shopping center, said co-owner Melissa Runge.

Runge said she and her partners have worked for two years to get to the point of opening in the shopping center at the corner of Hiram-Douglasville Highway and Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway.

She said she and her husband and co-owner, Charles Runge, live in Villa Rica. They do most of their shopping and dining out in Hiram and were familiar with what was available in the area, Mrs. Runge said.

The two brands are franchised nationally by Sandy Springs-based Global Franchise Group.

After deciding to buy a franchise, they then researched the best location in the area for the co-branded store and how to best operate it. They settled on Hiram’s regional shopping district which includes most major national retailers and restaurant chains within about a mile-long strip of U.S. Hwy. 278.

“We were making sure everything was right,” she said.

The 2,000-square-foot space is a former dentist office which had been vacant for about two years. The owners, including her husband Charles Runge and Candace and Song Keovongsauk, then did an extensive renovation which included removing the walls of the six individual rooms the dentist used for patients, she said.

The result was creation of an open area with Great American Cookies on one side and Marble Slab Creamery on the other, with inside seating for 20, she said.

It will be open seven days and employ 22, she said.


Paulding residents north of Dallas will soon have the chance to sample a fresh take on American cuisine at a family-operated restaurant.

The Cornbread Kettle plans to open by Nov. 1 in half of a building that currently houses a Chevron-branded convenience store on Ga. Hwy. 61, also known as Cartersville Highway, near Cochran Road.

Cornbread Kettle will be a full-service restaurant and fill a 3,000-square-foot space with seating for 40 at 8860 Cartersville Hwy. It will offer all three meals and feature food that is “homestyle with healthy options,” said owner Jim Smith.

Smith said he also lives in the north Paulding area. After commuting outside Paulding for 13 years he noticed the lack of area restaurants and decided to open his own.

“This is an under-served market,” he said. “There are a lot of nice neighborhoods.”

Smith said he hoped to appeal to those who live in the area who do not want to travel all the way to Dallas for a meal, as well as those commuting home and wanting takeout meals. He also is working with an area catering company to feature their food.

“There is not a restaurant in this area to get a nice meal,” Smith said. “We’re going to target a high volume of takeout.”

He listed a number of featured specialties, ranging from croissants to hamburgers and grilled salmon and rice. Traditional breakfast food will mix with lighter fare like yogurt to create a variety of options for north Paulding residents, he said.


Four Paulding-based owners have worked to renovate a decades-old building on Atlanta Highway near Charles Hardy Parkway into a sports-oriented restaurant.

Cynthia and Brian Harkins and Rachel and Chuck Hudgins are the owners and developers of 278 South at 3716 Atlanta Hwy. in Hiram.

The restaurant will offer casual dining and a full menu featuring locally grown vegetables and other items from local vendors, she said.

“We’re trying to keep it local and want to keep it local,” Hudgins said.

It includes about 5,800 square feet of usable space and will offer seating for 162, which includes a newly installed outdoor patio, when it opens in coming weeks, she said.

It also will feature 24 TVs throughout the building offering “every sports package,” as well as live bands and the occasional stand-up comedian on the weekends, she said.

“Our whole concept and idea is to offer something that Paulding County doesn’t have,” said Hudgins, a Paulding-based real estate agent.

She said the owners updated the look of the 33-year-old building by painting the wooden exterior, created a more open concept area inside, and kept the wooden interior walls basically intact, Hudgins said.


Hiram will be the home of another quickly expanding franchise restaurant chain which already has a major presence throughout northwest Georgia.

Jefferson’s will operate in a 3,800-square-foot space being renovated just off Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway in the Millpointe Pavilion center in Hiram, said Nick Carulla, a franchise manager with the Alabama-based chain.

The new restaurant will be at 45 Enterprise Path and will be the 25th location of Jefferson’s nationwide. It will be a sports-themed, casual dining eatery with seating for 120 and a patio to accommodate about six more, Carulla said.

Its specialties include wings, oysters, burgers “and so much more,” according to its website.

Jefferson’s opened in Jacksonville, Alabama, in 1991. It later expanded to the historic Mason’s building in downtown Rome in 2004, before opening more north Georgia locations in Villa Rica, Carrollton, Rockmart, Cedartown, Cartersville and Summerville.

“Hiram was just the natural, next domino,” Carulla said.

Through franchising, it has also has locations in Tennessee, Alabama, Kansas and Illinois.

The Jefferson’s space formerly was home to Neal’s Country Bar-B-Q near Los Arcos Mexican restaurant. Enterprise Path also is home to Country Inn and Suites motel.

Carulla said it will be owned by a franchisee who plans to have it open by mid-December.


About a mile east of Jefferson’s, a quickly expanding chain restaurant will open directly across Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway from the new Great American Cookies/Marble Slab Creamery.

Del Taco has begun renovations on the 4,500-square-foot building at 4525 Jimmy Lee Smith Parkway with plans to open by the end of this year, said a spokesman for the California-based chain.

It also is building a new location at 9552 Hwy. 5 in Douglasville with plans to open later this month, the spokesman said. Hiring has begun for both locations, she said.

Del Taco offers traditional Tex-Mex items, as well as free fresh salsa, but adds traditional American fast-food favorites like hamburgers and French fries to its menu. It already operates in Kennesaw, Milton, Smyrna, McDonough, Woodstock and Snellville in metro Atlanta.

It will operate on an outparcel of the Paulding Pavilion shopping center in Hiram in the former location of another Tex-Mex-themed eatery which closed in December.

The new Del Taco’s location was built as a Pollo Tropical restaurant in 2016 and occupies the former longtime site of Blockbuster Video in Hiram.

However, the restaurant chain’s ownership group closed the Hiram location and numerous other locations in late 2017 in an effort to improve its financial performance, a trade publication reported.


About a mile east of Del Taco on U.S. Hwy. 278 construction began recently on a free-standing building for McAlister’s Deli.

The nationally known chain, which is a subsidiary of Sandy Springs-based Focus Brands, features menu specialties such as baked potatoes, sandwiches and salads.

It is under construction on the part of the highway known as Wendy Bagwell Parkway, near Aldi and the intersection with Bill Carruth Parkway.

It will be owned by a franchisee and is planned as a 3,290-square foot restaurant, county and company officials said.

Hiram will be the restaurant chain’s 14th location in Georgia. Other metro Atlanta locations include Roswell, Atlanta, Lawrenceville and Kennesaw.

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