by Steve Lubetkin, Globest.com
Chickie’s & Pete’s Crab House and Sports Bar, a Philadelphia original, will be bringing its signature CrabFries and other seafood entrees to a former Champps with prominent frontage on Route 73, a main north-south highway for travelers from Philadelphia to southern New Jersey shore resorts.
Township Mayor Randy Brown, a coach for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, made the announcement inside the defunct Champps restaurant, surrounded by developer and restaurant representatives, and several former Philadelphia Eagles players who live in the township and had been urging the mayor to bring Chickie’s & Pete’s to this Burlington County community.
Chickie’s & Pete’s has 12 locations in Philadelphia and New Jersey, and several installations in stadiums, airports, amusement parks and casinos. Champps filed for bankruptcy Aug. 10 and the facility closed at that time.
The 10,000 square-foot Evesham Township restaurant will undergo a $3 million buildout to convert it to the Chickie’s & Pete’s model, which features multiple large wall monitors displaying sporting event coverage, says Peter Ciarrocchi, co-founder of Chickie’s & Pete’s. Part of the renovation will reconfigure restaurant parking. The Champps design has a dead-end circular driveway at the front of the building, but no parking. The restaurant front will have a complete driveway allowing traffic flow around the front of the facility.
“We will rebrand the interior of this restaurant,” says Ciarrocchi. “The A/V will be out of sight, there will be nothing like it in South Jersey.”
The restaurant will employ about 200 people when it reopens in Fall 2017, Ciarrochi says.
Mayor Brown says he’s been friends with Ciarrocchi for years, and had been urging the restaurateur to bring his sports-themed brand to the Marlton section of Evesham Township for some time, but they had been unable to find a suitable location.
“The mayor was calling me almost as soon as the grill was shut down,” says David Vender, senior vice president of leasing and redevelopment for Brixmor Property Group. Brixmoor owns the 332,664 square foot Marlton Crossing Shopping Center where the new Chickie’s & Pete’s is located, and will continue to be landlord for the restaurant. Other tenants in the center include DSW, Burlington Coat Factory, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and SaladWorks.
“We had tremendous interest in the property, as you can imagine,” says Vender. “They were lined up, and they were offering us record-breaking rents for this region.”
Prospective tenants vying for the property ranged among Mexican, family, and fine dining “with white tablecloths, it really ran the spectrum,” Vender tells GlobeSt.com. “We acquired the liquor license on behalf of Pete, and worked with him for a couple of months, and we’re really excited to be able to sign this lease.”
Vender says Brixmor expects the new restaurant to be a “traffic generator” that will make leasing space in the rest of the shopping center easier. “We’ll be able to lease off of it,” he says. “We’ll be able to absorb a number of vacancies as they pop up, and drive rents and drive better users coming in, because activity begets activity.”
Negotiating the lease took about two weeks, Vender says.