3rd Street mainstay coming back

By Bryan Richardson

A former mainstay of North Third Street is coming back to an area that’s seen better days.

A Richmond, Mo. couple, have announced their intent to re-open KFC in a new building at the site of the existing abandoned restaurant, 901 N. Third St. Rajeev and Dimple Jain, who also own a KFC/Taco Bell in their home town of Richmond, Mo., said they have purchased the structure from the previous owner.

The structure itself, however, doesn’t have much of a future. The Jains said they will allow the Manhattan Fire Department to use it for practice in August, at the end of which it will be leveled. A new building will be erected on an expanded site that also includes the existing Bargain Barrel. Rajeev said the hope is to have the new restaurant open by November.

“Manhattan always seems to be in the news in a good way for how great this community is, so we just wanted to be a part of it,” Rajeev said.

A couple of years ago, the couple drove to Manhattan after a trip to Colorado because they wanted to see the city. “We really liked the town and saw there was no KFC, which was kind of surprising,” Rajeev said. The restaurant had existed on North Third for many years, but it was closed as business declined and the structure fell into disrepair.

As other areas of the city were redeveloped in recent years, North Third Street’s business owners have expressed concern that their area hasn’t received the same attention.

Part of the reason is a proposal to extend McCall Road across Tuttle Creek Boulevard to Fourth Street. Officials believe such a step would increase traffic to the area. But it hasn’t been enacted due to high costs.

While there has been no recent public discussion of the extension, assistant city manager Jason Hilgers said it’s good to see KFC back in the community. He indicated, however, that the Jains’ commitment will not change the broader situation at the moment. “Obviously when companies reinvest and reestablish themselves in the community, it’s a good thing,” he said.

The Jains came to Manhattan last week to talk with different charities on how they can be involved. “Our goal is to be good corporate citizens,” Dimple said.

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