By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- A Popeye's franchisee says he doesn't have plans to bring the restaurant chain to the area any time soon.
"I'm not going to do anything there right now," Mansoor Awan said in a Monday afternoon phone interview.
Awan had appeared before Strasburg's Planning Commission in May, pitching his idea for a Popeye's chicken/Papa John's pizza restaurant combo, as well as a bank or other retail business at 33699 Old Valley Pike.
He had hoped to rezone the site from "x-transitional" to commercial.
Councilman Rich Orndorff said Awan's real-estate agent told him the businessman wasn't treated well by commissioners and some Town Council members in attendance.
Orndorff had hoped the town could work out a compromise with Awan.
Meanwhile, Middletown Mayor Marshall J. "Mark" Brown said the town was trying to lure Awan to the site of the former Carter's Family Store.
A four-unit building is being constructed there, and its location across from Lord Fairfax
Community College is ideal for a fast-food place, Brown said.
On Monday, he said the town hadn't received a response from Awan.
"We're a bride at the altar right now," Brown said. "We're waiting for the groom."
But it sounds like Awan may have gotten cold feet. He said Monday that he wasn't interested in opening a business in Middletown either.
"These are kind of small towns," Awan said. "Typically, we would need about 20,000 people or so."
He said he didn't take any comments from the Strasburg Planning Commission personally.
"I don't have any problem with anybody," Awan said. "It's not something personal between them and me."
Rather, the regulations the body was trying to impose were too restrictive for him.
"I don't think that's something I can do, all those things, and make my project viable," said Awan, who has other Popeye's restaurants in Virginia and Maryland.
"It doesn't make sense for us to do right now," he said. "I think that's too much for any new business to come in."
He didn't rule out a future venture in Strasburg.
"Not right now," Awan said. "I will see what happens in the future."
He said he was aware that some residents were critical of the town's role in his decision not to locate there.
"They need to give these [opinions] to their commissioner or elected people so they know to make the process easy for new business," Awan said.