Wharf Casual Seafood construction to begin soon |

Wharf Casual Seafood announced that construction will officially begin on their Alexander City location this week.

In February, president and CEO of Wharf Casual Seafood Noah Griggs, Jr. told The Outlook the company was waiting on its ALDOT permit, the last hurdle to clear before they can “start going vertical.”

“It’s been a minute and a half,” he said. “When I get my permit, I’m going to start construction — I feel like any day, but I have been saying this for two to three months now.”

In a press release Tuesday, April 12, Wharf Casual Seafood said they are fully permitted and ready for construction after “many months of due diligence and working with the city.”

“We are grateful for the communities’ patience and overwhelming support of this endeavor” said Griggs in the press release.

They are hoping to open in early 2023.

Griggs, former executive at the company behind Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., partnered with chef and Wharf co-owner Stephen Duggar seven years ago. Duggar’s parents Early and Eva opened the first Wharf restaurant in Tallahassee, Florida in 1986, after two hurricanes nearly sank their seafood business.

“They were literally on the side of the road with a food truck; they had to build their business back from nothing,” Griggs said.

In the years since, Early and his son Stephen evolved that original concept into what it is today, an order-at-the-counter restaurant chain serving shrimp and grits, po boys, tacos, salads and gumbo. Early continued to run the restaurant until he passed away in 2020.

Griggs, a Tallassee native, is back in his hometown where he owns another restaurant with his wife Pam, 1220 Cafe. The decision to bring Wharf Casual Seafood to Alexander City was helped by the connections he made catering in the area.

“Through the years, we’ve built a great relationship with people in that area,” Griggs said of Alexander City. “That really convinced us that we really need to be in that market.”

The US 280 site, owned by Russell Lands chairman Ben Russell sits between Regions Bank and what’s soon to become a Sonic. “Ben came to the Wetumpka site last week and had lunch; he’s excited,” Griggs said.

According to Griggs, Russell isn’t the only Alexander City resident to make the trip to Elmore County.

“It’s unbelievable how many people are coming out of Millbrook, Alexander City, the lake, because it’s now the closest they can go for good seafood,” he said.

Alexander City residents will have a much shorter drive in the future. The restaurant is slated to open by 2023.

In the Tuesday morning press release, they also announced they are in discussions with the city of Sylacauga to bring Wharf Casual Seafood there.

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