Newton lawyer Steve Johnson had the perfect witness to ask a burning question of Tuesday afternoon — one he and many others in the Newton community have wanted an answer to for a quite some time.
“When is Freddy's coming to Newton,” Johnson asked. It was the first question of the day.
The question was aimed at Scott Redler. Redler is the co-founder and COO of the fast-casual restaurant franchise, Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. He, along with his business partners, launched the restaurant in 2002 in Wichita, franchised in 2004, and now there are more than 215 restaurants across the United States.
Newton, however, does not have a Freddy's — though it feels surrounded as the chain has expanded in Wichita, El Dorado, McPherson and Hutchinson.
“Newton is an interesting market for us,” Redler said. “It is on the edge of two franchisees, and close to our corporate location. The first decision for us is who is going to own and run that restaurant. We like to own and operate our own, so it will probably go that direction.”
No answer there. However, there was good news for “Fredheads” to come.
“We have been up here recently to look at dirt, we have not signed deals or anything, but we have been talking about it,” Redler said.
Redler was the keynote speaker for the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Newton's annual Leadership Luncheon.
Redler asked the audience during the luncheon if they believe the restaurant should locate on First Street near I-135, or on South Kansas Ave. near the YMCA currently under construction — possibly a clue as to where a Freddy's could go.
However, Redler told The Kansan there is no timeline for the purchase of ground, or the opening of a new restaurant.
“Will there be a Freddy's in Newton sometime? Absolutely,” Redler said. “... We have just been up here looking. We don't know when we will make that decision, but this is part of the process. The town is on the radar.”
The remainder of Redler's time at the dinner, held at the Meridian Center in Newton, was spent speaking about the success of the Freddy's concept — growing from one location to more than 215 — and principles of leadership for business.