LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The growing Tampa-based chicken chain, PDQ, opened its 31st restaurant Sunday in Bradenton.
PDQ, which stands for "People Dedicated to Quality" is fast becoming a popular choice for fresh chicken tenders, sandwiches, salads, and malts, all made daily on the premises, The new restaurant just east of Interstate 75 and State Road 70 on Lena Road became the second PDQ in Southwest Florida, joining the South Sarasota PDQ on Tamiami Trail which opened last year.
Since debuting in Tampa Bay in 2011, PDQ has opened locations in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Texas under the leadership of MVP Restaurant Partners, Bob Basham, co-founder of the Outback Steakhouse, and Nick Reader, formerly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Owners are predicting a strong opening since the location is near growing Lakewood Ranch, three large apartment complexes under development and several schools and colleges.
Operating director Mark Dennis, who managed the Sarasota location and is now based in Bradenton, says 65 new employees of varying ages have been training all week in preparation for the grand opening.
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"We have a very thorough training system and the one thing we look for that you really can't teach is personality. We want people who are good communicators and can interact with guests and their fellow workers as a team," Dennis said during a Tuesday morning stop to the new location while contractors and landscapers busily worked around him.
New staff will be trained on the fresh cooking aspects of PDQ, which the company says sets it apart from other fast-food restaurants. Everything is made to order and baked inhouse, from chicken tenders to salads to chocolate chip cookies and fresh lemonade.
PDQ customers can actually see what they order since all cooking is done on the premises in an open kitchen behind the order counters. There's also a drive-through for quick pickups, but, PDQ, unlike other fast-food chains, is designed for comfort and casualness, and not speed.
"The idea here is to welcome people and make them enjoy their experience," Dennis said.
While the menu is basically the same, the East Manatee PDQ will sport a slightly different interior design. The dining room and kitchen layouts are the same but the ceiling is lower and enclosed so no ventilation is exposed, which is the case in the Sarasota location.
As part of the comfort experience, all PDQ restaurants feature softly painted interiors, natural stone walls, wood floors and low-voltage, LED lighting.
Sunday's grand opening started with a flag-raising ceremony and a blessing of the building.
PDQ plans to expand to Lee County, with the opening of two more restaurants in Fort Myers around the first of the year.
"We're excited to be part of the rebirth of Lee County. There's a lot of exciting development there and it's a great time to be part of that growth," company spokesman Jeffrey Kamis said.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.