After sitting empty since June, the old AuburnBank building on Toomer's Corner will soon have a new tenant, as Whataburger plans to open up a location in the heart of downtown Auburn.
Whataburger will replace Pieology, which closed its doors in June during the midst of the pandemic.
The lease details between Whataburger and property owner Oak Tree Corner LLC should be finalized in the next couple weeks, said co-owner Drew Goodner, who added that he thinks Whataburger is considering being open 24 hours a day at that location.
"We're excited about it obviously," said Goodner, who added that he talked to several potential tenants during the process. "I think this is a good fit for downtown."
The news that a Whataburger would anchor Toomer's Corner, which was first reported by the online site tonetoatl.com last Wednesday, drew mixed reactions from area residents online, with many on the community page, What's Happening in Auburn and Opelika, waxing nostalgic for the days when the building housed the bar Bodega or its successor, the Bank Vault, and pining for a new tenant along those lines.
"I know a lot of people prefer something a little more unique or local," said Goodner, acknowledging some of the community's reaction. "A lot of times those numbers just don't match up.
"I think they'll bring a good late-night option," he added about Whataburger. "They do also serve breakfast."
Whataburger is currently going through the permitting process with the city, and will still have to go through the development review team process at some point for their planned renovations to the building.
"Assuming all permits are granted and our lease is fully executed in the next couple of weeks, then I think they're looking at a four- to six-month buildout timeline. They would probably love to be open in time for football season," said Goodner. "It's our anchor tenant on that corner, for sure.
"Hopefully, they'll be there for a long, long time. They're making a big investment."
Rob's Ribs opening its doors
Rob's Ribs, a new venture from the owners of Butcher Paper BBQ in Opelika, plans to open its doors starting Monday at the old Mike & Ed's location on North College Street.
Rob's Ribs will offer a trial run of curbside pickup on Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. They will also be taking to-go bulk orders for A-Day on Saturday.
Starting on Monday, Rob's Ribs plans to start their soft opening from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
"I'm so incredibly excited," said co-owner Mark Coxwell. "We've been putting in hours upon hours of work here, and I'm excited to see it start to pay off, hopefully starting next week."
For more information, check out Rob's Ribs' website at robsribsauburn.com.