For fans of Taco Bell in Beaufort and Jasper counties, the end of October might feel a little like Christmas instead of Halloween.
Construction is expected to be complete on the new Taco Bell location in Hardeeville by the end of October, and the dining room of the Bluffton location that has been closed for renovations has an Oct. 25 target date for reopening, according to representatives for the two franchises.
Work on the Hardeeville Taco Bell, being built near Exit 8 of I-95, was delayed because of the evacuation ahead of Hurricane Dorian but is moving along steadily now and could serve its first customers in November, said owner Ashwin Patel.
The location will be the sixth Taco Bell for Patel’s company, which is based in Macon, Georgia.
He said he was drawn to the Lowcountry because he has family here, but the site where the restaurant is being built was particularly appealing when his business was looking for a location.
“There is a lot of traffic, so hopefully that helps us,” he said.
The restaurant is located between Coastal Carolina Hospital and the heavily traveled I-95. The interchange with U.S. 278 also is home to McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts and Waffle House.
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, a Fort Worth-based chain, is planning to open next to the Enmarket station that recently replaced Joker Joe’s Truck Stop across the street from Taco Bell.
The Hardeeville Taco Bell will feature the company’s new “Modern Explorer” design, with warm gray tones, wood veneers and an open-kitchen concept.
“It’s a fairly new design,” said Patel. “There will be outdoor seating, as well.”
Major renovations that have closed the dining room of the Bluffton Taco Bell for the past several months are “going great,” said Brian Solomonic, operations director for franchisee Bravo Foods. “The restaurant is looking amazing. ... It was long overdue for a remodel.”
The drive-thru at the restaurant — located at 11 Gateway Village Road off U.S. 278 in the same shopping complex as Home Depot — has remained open during most of the construction work.
The footprint of the building has not changed. Plans on file with Beaufort County’s Design Review Board said construction would alter the roof and doors and add a canopy over the drive-thru window, according to previous reports in The Island Packet. Other plans included a light brown veneer on the facade and improved landscaping around the building and in the buffer along U.S. 278.
Solomonic said that, barring unforeseen delays, the restaurant is expected to fully reopen its dining room on Oct. 25.