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A new restaurant uptown by mid-October is unlikely

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The “New Uptown Restaurant” has yet to file the necessary paperwork with at least two Athens agencies that certify new businesses in the city.

An Athens-based Twitter account sent foodies into a frenzy this week when it claimed a new restaurant would open on Court Street by mid-October — but an absence of the necessary paperwork makes it likely all the fuss could be premature.

Both the Athens City-County Health Department and the City of Athens Code Enforcement Office said they have not received permits or applications for a restaurant opening uptown in October. This calls into question claims made by “New Uptown Restaurant,” whose Twitter bio reads: “Soon to be your favorite restaurant.”

The Athens County Health Department handles new restaurant applications, which spokesperson Hannah Klayko said involves a “plan review process.” The process involves potential restaurant operators working with the state of Ohio to ensure the facility will have proper electricity and plumbing, amongst other things, Klayko said.

Once the state has signed-off on the application, it is supposed to be submitted to the Athens City-County Health Department. The department then has 30 days to approve the restaurant plan once they receive it, according to Klayko.

Although it’s not impossible for a business to still submit the necessary paperwork for a mid-October restaurant opening, Klayko said it would be “difficult” to process it in time.

“Most responsible operators get ahold of us by now,” Klayko said. “Every now and then we’ll have someone that appears out of nowhere and we’ll try to rush things, but typically most operators are responsible.”

Potential restaurant owners are also supposed to file an application with code enforcement so they can issue a permit for their building use, according to Kerri Yake, a spokesperson for Athens’ Office of Code Enforcement. As far as Yake knows, no application has been filed.

The Twitter account has revealed minimal details on the specifics of the restaurant, but did say it would not be a pizza place and that Twitter followers of the account would be entered for a chance to win free food for a year.

But whoever’s behind the account will be hard-pressed to supply free food if they don’t have the proper paperwork to legally sell it in the first place.

The Twitter account has not yet indicated whether it is claiming to be a local or chain restaurant. Patrick McGarry, a spokesperson for the Athens City-County Health Department, said in the past that most national chains have contacted the department far in advance of building or remodeling. McGarry said he would be “surprised if something is happening in the immediate future.”

Only three restaurants have filed an application with code enforcement since July, according to Yake, including a Steak-N-Shake, IHOP and not-yet-approved hotel restaurant and bar.

The “New Uptown Restaurant” Twitter account declined to comment.

Nate Doughty contributed to this report.

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