Hickory Hillz BBQ opening in downtown Franklin

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Hickory Hillz BBQ, which has operated in Edinburgh since 2005, is getting ready to open a second restaurant at 89 E. Jefferson St. in downtown Franklin.

The 3,400-square-foot space was formerly occupied by Frechette Eye Center, which moved in 2018.

Chad Smock of Franklin, who owns the barbecue restaurant with his father, Richard Smock, said he’s aiming for an opening in late November or early December.

The Smocks purchased Hickory Hillz in March, right before COVID-19 hit. Chad Smock, who previously worked at both Steak n Shake and Bob Evans, said he’s been able to lean on his 14 years of restaurant experience to help keep things going through the pandemic.

So when father and son saw the opportunity to expand, they decided to go for it. “We’re not really looking at COVID as a restriction,” Chad Smock said.

Looking ahead, Hickory Hillz plans to launch some food trucks next summer, and eventually open additional restaurants in Indiana and beyond. “We’re not looking to stop at two units,” Chad Smock said.

The restaurant serves hickory-smoked pork, beef brisket, chicken and turkey, along with daily specials such as Cajun gumbo, hot sausage and ribs. The menu also includes side items and desserts. Hickory Hillz also offers catering.

In other news this week:

Guardian RV Storage, which opened in June 2019 at 6425 Olivia Lane, is adding three storage buildings to give it another 35,000 square feet of storage space in addition to the 55,000 square feet it already has.

The expansion, which should be complete by mid-December, will add another 48 storage bays to its current 76.

The business is located on the city’s northeast side between Arlington and Shadeland avenues just south of 34th Street. It’s owned by the Beaty family, which also operates two other businesses in the same neighborhood: construction company W.E. Beaty Inc. and Arlington Self Storage.

Arlington Self Storage began offering storage spaces for recreational vehicles in 2008. The demand for that space convinced the Beatys that a business devoted to indoor RV storage would do well, said Property Manager Brad Rollings.

“Once we filled it, it was full the whole time,” Rollings said of the 14 spaces at Arlington Self Storage. “People were willing to pay more for indoor storage, and they weren’t finding any place to do that.”

Whereas outdoor RV storage runs less than $100 per month, Rollings said, indoor storage starts at $490 per month.

If demand holds up, Guardian has plenty of room for future expansion. “We’ve got enough land to have a total of 330 (storage) units, as long as the market demands that,” Rollings said.

Liftoff Creamery, an aviation-themed ice cream shop owned by Republic Airways pilot Ryan Lynch, opened Sept. 23 at 111 E. 16th St. in the Old Northside neighborhood. The shop serves a rotating selection of 120 flavors of ice cream, with 20 flavors on the menu at any given time. All flavors have aviation-inspired names: the current lineup includes Traffic Pattern (mint chocolate chip), Amelia Earhart (strawberry) and Red Eye (raspberry pomegranate sorbet). The menu also includes shakes, ice cream floats, shaved ice and other items.

— Long-time running shop Athletic Annex plans to open a second store in a 2,738-square-foot space at 11591 Yard St. in Fishers, in mid-December. The retailer also has a store at 1300 E. 86th St. in Nora, between North College Avenue and Westfield Boulevard.

And finally, a couple of updates on previously reported news items:

— Indianapolis-based Sun King Brewery & Spirits will have a grand opening Friday for its 1,000-square-foot space at Indianapolis International Airport.

The establishment is in the airport’s Concourse B, accessible only to passengers who have gone through a security checkpoint. Sun King describes it as a “beer-garden-inspired tap room that will offer 16 taps of Sun King favorites.”

The project is part of the airport’s larger “concessions refresh” effort to bring in a new mix of retail tenants as old leases expires. The airport announced its 12 new food and beverage concessionaires in March 2019.

Big Woods Pizza opened a 4,000-square-foot restaurant Wednesday at the Indiana Premium Outlet Mall in Edinburgh. IBJ first reported on the project early last month.

The eatery is part of Brown County-based Big Woods Restaurants, which operates nine restaurants in Nashville, Speedway, Noblesville, Franklin, Bloomington, Edinburgh and Lafayette. The restaurant group is part of Brown County-based BWQOHT Inc., whose holdings also include Quaff ON! Brewing Co. and Hard Truth Distilling Co.

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