Chili's, Popeyes on the way to South U.S. 27

Christopher Harris I CJ

On Friday, workers adjusted signage on the front of the new Chili's location on South U.S. 27. Developer Brook Ping is hopeful the restaurant will be open by late November or early December.

I want my baby back (ribs). And my Popeyes back.

That's what Pulaski Countians may be saying with the eventual arrival of the two newest restaurants on the South U.S. 27 commercial landscape.

The developments going up in the strip of land in front of New Vista Oakwood on the busy highway are taking shop. Both Chili's -- the Tex-Mex casual dining chain known for their ribs, burgers and fajitas -- and Popeyes -- which puts a Louisiana twist on fried chicken -- are currently seeing their new Somerset locations under construction.

Brook Ping, managing member of Makena Development, which brought the restaurants to their property, said the company is "excited" to have two such popular brands coming to Somerset.

"We have had great weather for development and construction over the last several months," he said. "... Somerset and Pulaski County are experiencing unprecedented growth and outside investment. Everywhere you look, construction is taking place."

Ping said he hasn't confirmed opening dates with either company, but he anticipates late November or early December "based on how construction is taking place."

Indeed, significant progress has been made on Chili's in particular, with signage on the restaurant going up this past weekend.

Popeyes Chicken has actually called Somerset home before, going in the Grand Central Place shopping center back in 2002, but it eventually closed. Popeyes opened in 1972 in the New Orleans area, according to their website, popeyes.com, operating over 2,700 restaurants globally. The menu uses Cajun and creole flavor profiles, in various chicken offerings including sandwiches and tenders, as well as shrimp.

Chili's began in Dallas in 1975, according to chilis.com. Now part of Brinker International, which has more than 1,600 restaurants around the world, Chili's has Kentucky locations in Lexington, Louisville, Florence, Frankfort, Bowling Green and Bardstown -- and now Somerset.

Ping said that local tourism directors, economic development leaders, and political figures -- here and in Frankfort -- have done a lot of work to promote and grow Pulaski County to the point where it can lure new businesses that have a big-name brand presence in other areas.

"We are seeing record growth taking place in Somerset, but more importantly is the quality of life," said Ping. "The economic climate coupled with good leadership locally and from the state level has created the perfect recipe for success."

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