Representatives from Cook Out met with city officials last month in a pre-application meeting, according to Libby Anderson, Beaufort's director of planning.
"They came to talk about the process," she said. "We haven't gotten an official application."
Anderson said the next step would be for the company to submit an application to be reviewed by the city's Design Review Board.
Cook Out, based in Greensboro, N.C., is a privately owned chain with more than 100 restaurants throughout the Southeast. The menu features chargrilled burgers, barbecue, hot dogs and 40 handspun milkshakes.
The restaurants usually have a small footprint, typically featuring a double drive-thru, a walk-up ordering window and outdoor dining. Newer Cook Out restaurants have an indoor dining option as well.
The nearest Cook Out to Beaufort County is in Pooler, Ga.
Follow reporter Ashley Fahey at twitter.com/IPBG_Ashley.