Wintzell’s Oyster House coming to Greenville

Published 3:04 pm Friday, December 2, 2011

A taste of the Gulf Coast is coming to the Camellia City.

On Thursday, officials with Wintzell’s Oyster House put a contract on a piece of property along Interstate Drive across from the Interstate Plaza shopping center with plans to open a restaurant on the site.

“They’re moving forward with their plans to open a restaurant here in Greenville,” Mayor Dexter McLendon said. “They’ve put some money on the line, which shows they are serious about locating here.”

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According to McLendon, Wintzell’s Oyster House plans to have a restaurant open in Greenville by the summer.

“Their goal is to be open by the summer to catch the beach traffic,” he said.

The first step in making that goal a reality is to finalize the deal on the property. Then a building will need to be constructed on the site. The Timberland Log Homes building is currently located on the property. That building will be removed to make room for the restaurant.

McLendon said the City of Greenville has also agreed to widen Interstate Drive to give the restaurant more room for its building and parking.

“We’re going to move the road over to straighten it out some, which is something we needed to do anyway,” McLendon said. “Our engineers are working on that, and we’ve applied for a grant to help pay for it.”

According to McLendon the city will move ahead with the road project even if it is denied the grant.

The decision by Wintzell’s Oyster House officials to open a restaurant in Greenville comes as no surprise. At a September Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce meeting, Bob Donlon, Wintzell’s Oyster House CEO, said he felt “Greenville would be a good location for a Wintzell’s.”

Wintzell’s, which was founded in 1938 by J. Oliver Wintzell, has 12 locations throughout Alabama and Florida. The eatery is know for fresh Gulf seafood, and was named in Willard Scott’s All-American Cookbook for the best oysters and crabs.

According to Donlon, Wintzell’s Oyster House will likely employ 125 workers at its Greenville restaurant.

“Typically when we open a new restaurant it employs between 100 and 150 people,” he said. “I think a restaurant in Greenville would employ as many as 125 people.”

McLendon believes the restaurant’s impact could extend far beyond the number of jobs created.

“I think Wintzell’s would become a destination place for people traveling up and down the Interstate,” McLendon said. “It would certainly pull of a lot of people off the Interstate who would probably stop at our gas stations and fill up and spend money at other businesses around town. This is big for us.”