The former Shoney’s building might not be vacant much longer.

The Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce announced Friday that representatives from Denny’s Restaurants have visited the site, as well as toured the rest of Neosho and were “very impressed.”

Gib Garrow, the chamber’s economic development director, said the move is not official yet, though there have been exciting signs.

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, Ray Stipp, chairman of the Chamber’s Retail Development Committee, along with Garrow, hosted Gayle Voss, senior manager of real estate for Denny’s.

Voss, along with an associate, toured the former Shoney’s restaurant, at 3001 Lusk Dr., as well as drove through Neosho’s industrial park, Crowder College, the Neosho Boulevard and the downtown square.

“She just couldn’t believe how much business and industry, and how vibrant Neosho was and the amount of traffic,” Garrow said. “And she was very impressed that the square had been mostly restored.”

Garrow said the amount of industry in Neosho, the size of the Crowder campus and the traffic flow and activity around the intersection of Highways 59 and 60, as well as the nearby Interstate 49, left the visitors impressed with Neosho.

In a follow-up call with Denny’s on Friday, Sept. 20, Garrow was told that a review had been completed at the Denny’s Corporate Office, located in Atlanta, Ga., and that they would recommend the Neosho site to their franchisee.

Garrow said he expects to hear back soon regarding a local visit from the franchisee.

“We should have a visit within the next week to 10 days with the franchisee,” he said.

Garrow said Denny’s would be a good fit for Neosho, and noted that retail and restaurants often come in clusters.

“If one can make it, they figure well, the next one can,” Garrow said.
Garrow said Denny’s usually moves to communities of at least 40,000, though with an interstate nearby, that also helps.

He said that 40,000 mark can also be reached within approximately 12 miles of Neosho.

“The demographics are good for them,” he said.

With the restaurant’s addition to Neosho not official just yet, the Neosho Chamber is asking the city’s residents to show their interest in the business coming to Neosho.

The chamber asks citizens to visit the “Neosho Area Business Voice” Facebook page to view a prototype of the restaurant, and express their interest or encouragement for the restaurant, which refers to itself as “America’s diner,” to open in Neosho. The chamber plans to share the citizens’ input with Denny’s.

Denny’s Restaurants was founded in Southern California in 1953 and currently has almost 1,700 restaurants, according to information on their website.

Currently, the nearest Denny’s locations to Neosho are in Joplin and Bentonville, Ark.