Former Zaxby’s building in Fayetteville sells, breakfast restaurant in the works

by Paul Gatling ( 1,351 views 

This architectural rendering depicts the new exterior of a First Watch restaurant at 3251 N. College Ave. in Fayetteville.

A national restaurant chain will soon open its first Arkansas location in Fayetteville.

First Watch, whose concept is built on a “healthy and fresh” breakfast, brunch and lunch menu, will open its doors in the first quarter of 2019 at 3251 N. College Ave. The previous tenant, Zaxby’s, closed earlier this year.

A limited liability company controlled by James Tilman and Joseph Hulston recently paid $1.17 million for the property, and the building is being renovated for the new business.

Tilman and Hulston are First Watch franchisees who have agreed to open at least five restaurants in southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. The first one opened in Springfield, Mo., last October, and another Springfield store is scheduled to open this fall.

“It has been very well-received in Springfield and I have no doubt it will be the same in Fayetteville,” Tilman said, adding he envisions “three to four” restaurants in Northwest Arkansas. He said the Springfield location has weekly sales between $45,000 and $50,000.

Based in Florida, First Watch Restaurants Inc. has roughly 225 of the “daytime cafes” and about 80 locations of The Egg & I, which it acquired in 2015.

In 2017, First Watch announced plans to open a minimum of 110 franchise restaurants with new and existing franchise partners by 2022, in addition to its 150 planned company-owned restaurant openings.

Tilman said the Fayetteville store will have between 25 and 30 employees