Since it opened in 2011, Binghamton Hots has been one of the few restaurants available to students looking for a late-night meal in Downtown Binghamton. Now, Hots will be expanding its franchise with a new location in Johnson City.
The restaurant’s franchise plan was originally approved in November of last year, and since then, Hots has planned to spread across the area, specifically to other college towns in the Southern Tier and Central New York. The Johnson City opening will be its first expansion. Hots owner David Whalen, ‘05, said he’s been optimistic about his plans to place his restaurant in the new student ecosystem in Johnson City.
According to Whalen, the installation of the University Downtown Center (UDC) had a positive effect on Binghamton businesses in 2007, and he expects a similar impact to take place in Johnson City with the opening of the University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) on Corliss Avenue.
“We had seen what was going on with Downtown Binghamton and the revitalization there,” Whalen said. “It’s gone very well here, and we hope that translates to the Johnson City location as well.”
Part of the financing for the opening in Johnson City will be provided by the Southern Tier East Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, a program that administers small business loans in an effort to create jobs in the area. The new location will eventually employ four full-time employees and eight part-time workers.
By franchising a second Hots location at 265 Main St. in Johnson City, a five-minute walk from SOPPS, Whalen said he hopes to continue growing a business ecosystem by connecting with students from other college towns.
“We thought this location was perfect for us in terms of where it was located in relation to the new Pharmacy School,” Whalen said. “My inclination was kind of to get in on the ground floor of that to help, not only spur that but to reap the rewards of what’s going to happen with the neighborhood there, too.”
The Johnson City location Whalen purchased will place the Hots venue in the commercial space of the building’s first floor, while the second floor will be remodeled to create loft-style apartments and the existing third-floor apartment will be improved. Because the location currently has tenants with separate leases, the renovations will not occur immediately.
“We really don’t have our timeline in place right now,” Whalen said. “Basically, what’s happening right now is my attorney is reviewing the lease to see what our obligations are to the tenants, and once we get a read on that I’m sure there will be some negotiation with the current tenants to see how we want to proceed.”
Tentatively, Whalen hopes to open the new location by fall 2019, but the launch could come later.
“We’d love to be open for fall semester next year, but it’s all going to depend on how things play out,” Whalen said.