A sign in the small strip mall on the corner of South 19th Street and South K Street promises it’s coming soon: Ezell’s Famous Chicken.
And it is. The Seattle-based restaurant will try its third Tacoma location since 2005 at a Hilltop shopping center, the center’s owner confirmed Friday.
Kim Woods, who with her brother Mike Jankelson owns the commercial shopping center at 1902 Martin Luther King Way, said the opening date is targeted for Oct. 15. Beyond that, she referred restaurant questions to co-owner Lewis Rudd. Rudd didn’t return three messages and an email requesting comment.
Ezell’s started in Seattle 20 years ago. This location will be its third in Tacoma. Two franchises opened in Tacoma in 2005. In 2007 the Sixth Avenue location closed, and in 2008 the Seattle-based owners took over the East Tacoma location to improve operations. It has since closed, too.
Woods and Jankelson completed construction on the small Hilltop shopping center in 2008, and it’s been mostly vacant since then because of the recession. Ezell’s makes the third and final tenant, along with a beauty supply store and another restaurant, Papa Jones BBQ.
“We never imagined that it would be three years later before we were filled,” she said.
Woods said she and Jankelson self-financed the center’s construction, so they were able to hang onto the building even while it was mostly empty. They own several other commercial properties in Tacoma, Spanaway and Bremerton, she said. Economic pressures haven’t eluded them and their tenants, she said, but only a few have had temporary rent reductions. “Most of our tenants have been here for years. They’re solid, established. We haven’t raised rents, I can tell you that,” Woods said.
Ezell’s lease is for five years with a five-year renewal option, she said.
Kathleen Cooper: 253-597-8546