Commonwealth Journal

October 20, 2012

Ping: Stonegate Centre will be home to big-name restaurant

By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

Somerset has a new restaurant on the way.
Which one? Well ... the cat isn’t out of the (doggie) bag just yet.
Brook Ping, owner of Stonebrook Development, is the man responsible for putting new businesses into the Stonegate Centre on South U.S. 27. 
Ever since the June 26 election which granted Somerset businesses the right to legally sell alcohol, the Commonwealth Journal has stayed in contact with Ping about potential new restaurants.
Ping confirmed this weekend that a contract has been signed with one “national chain restaurant” to locate in the mostly empty commercial space, adjacent to Grand Central Place on the major road.
He was not able to say which one Stonegate Centre would house at this time, however, under terms of his company’s agreement with the restaurant.
“There is a contingency period,” said Ping, “and after that, the name will be released.”
The contingency period is about 75 days in length, noted Ping.
“This will allow them to perform due diligence related to zoning permits and building approval,” he said.
One of the most active topics of conversation surrounding Somerset’s prospects now that it’s “wet” is what restaurants might locate here. While already-existing stores and restaurants have started to sell beer and mixed drinks so far, word on potential growth has been slow.
Immediately following the option election this summer, Ping said that he was “working with several folks” and that discussions had “been ongoing for some time.”
Apparently, that work has come to fruition, now that an actual contract has been signed.
The restaurant would go in an area that’s currently little more than L&N Federal Credit Union, Sleep Outfitters, and a large empty space in the background. 
 Talk of potential stores and restaurants began buzzing when the site was first excavated back in 2007. At the time, Ping said that there were “plans for four 1.5 acre restaurant or retail sites at the front of the property and a 15 to 20 acre site for a large retail center at the rear of the property.”
Very little actually materialized there over the years, however, as the entire country saw itself fall into an economic tailspin that affected Pulaski County just as much as anywhere else. 
However, after Somerset voters chose to allow alcohol sales by a margin of 2,176 “yes” votes to 1,464 “no” ballots, the town’s outlook has changed, with plenty of local chatter about which new businesses might be looking to call Somerset home.
Ping suggested more good news could be on the horizon. He told the Commonwealth Journal that his company has “a contract pending” with another national chain restaurant, and is currently in negotiations with two more. He expected these will be ready to be brought on board around the same time the other contract is signed.
The flurry of activity following the alcohol vote has been a welcome burden for Ping.
“It’s been extremely busy over the last several months, (but) busy in a good way,” he said. “Things are going great. They’re moving right along.”