Restaurant scene changing in Dunn

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The options for diners in Dunn is changing with several openings, closings or renovations now planned or already underway.

Reuben and Ann York of Lillington said this week they are planning to open the Awesome Burger Co. in the old Burger King building on the west side of Dunn.

Mr. York was at the site this week and anticipates work continuing for approximately seven weeks before the business is ready to open.

Mr. York said he anticipates selling an assortment of hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches when he opens.

The Yorks are opening the first Awesome Burger Co. but they are familiar to the business climate in both Lillington and the Dunn area.

Mr. York has more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He worked at the Dairy Freeze in both Dunn and Lillington. He and his wife currently operate a pottery business outside Lillington.

Mr. York said he anticipates employing approximately 15 employees when the Awesome Burger Co. is fully operational.

In the downtown area of Dunn, work is ongoing on a new business at the site where White Swan Chicken and Barbecue operated most recently. The building is the same site where Roy’s restaurant also operated.

The new restaurant will be named Gabriella’s.

According to owner Jamie Castillo, the restaurant will feature Italian and Hispanic food. The Hispanic menu will specifically feature several Peruvian items. A Peruvian oven on the outside the building will be able to cook as many as 48 chickens at the same time.

The owners are also in negotiations with White Swan to continue selling the company’s barbecue at the business.

Mr. Castillo said the business will be open early for breakfast and will remain open throughout the day and will serve dinner.

Mr. Castillo said he is waiting for final work to be done at Gabriella’s and expects to open soon.

“We will hopefully be open by the end of this month,” Mr. Castillo said. “We are doing what we have to and we are ready to go.”

Mr. Castillo is operating the business with his brother-in-law. The pair have a career of experience in the restaurant business including operating Italian restaurants and a bagel shop in New Jersey.

Another entrepreneur has purchased one of Dunn’s longest-standing restaurant locations and is working on plans to transform it into another business.

Jennifer Cruz said Wednesday she is now the owner of the building where Norris Frozen Custard was located in Lucknow Square and will soon be the site of a new nail salon.

Ms. Cruz said she started preparing the building this week to open Heavenly Nails and Spa at the site.

Ms. Cruz said she decided to open the business after talking to local citizens.

“We talked to people who said they are not happy with the nail services now available in Dunn,” Ms. Cruz said. “We are going to offer something different, and we are going to be the best of the best.”

Ms. Cruz has not set an opening date for her salon but said it will open some time this year.

“It is going to take a few months to get it open,” Ms. Cruz said.

There will also soon be renovations at the Smithfield’s Chicken ’N Bar-B-Q on the western side of town. Burger King on East Cumberland Street is also undoing renovations.

Unfortunately, Grandsons and The Fishin’ Chicken have closed. And hopes that something will locate in the old Wendy’s at the interstate need to be put aside as a sign out front indicates the property is now owned by the state presumably for Interstate 95 expansion.

Dunn’s Bozie Tart is the owner of the Wayne Avenue Shopping Center where Grandsons is located. He said the company is using the site as a distribution site for its other five restaurants. It is possible the chain will reopen in Dunn.

“I hope they will be reopen in the near future,” Mr. Tart said.

Workers have been seen at the site on West Cumberland Street where Las Brisas Mexican restaurant operated. That business has now closed.

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