By John Toole
---- — LONDONDERRY — A national restaurant wholesale company with outlets in 27 states is retreating from developing a site off Route 102, but remains interested in the region.
“It doesn’t look like we are going through with the site,” Restaurant Depot chief operating officer Larry Cohen said Friday. “It will not work at that location.”
Cohen spoke after representatives of Restaurant Depot met with the Planning Board on Thursday night to discuss the concept.
Restaurant Depot was considering a property east of the plaza that houses Cafe Teresa.
The company was proposing a 58,000-square-foot building, with room to add another 9,500 square feet if business warranted. The company said it would employ 35 to 40 people.
But the size of the building exceeded limits in the performance overlay zone and the warehouse-type use also could require a waiver from the Planning Board.
“Going any more than (55,000 square feet), I don’t think would get past this board,” Planning Board Chairman Arthur Rugg told the company’s attorney and architect.
The company had been hopeful about locating in the town.
“Londonderry seemed to be the right place to be,” Cohen said before the meeting.
Restaurant Depot remains interested in the area, he said Friday.
“We will continue to look in New Hampshire,” he said. “We like the market.”
Londonderry still might land Restaurant Depot.
Town Manager Kevin Smith said officials will work with the company on other locations.
“We will be doing that,” he said.
The store would be the company’s first in northern New England.
Cohen said Londonderry was the preferred location for a New Hampshire store because of its central location right off Interstate 93.
Restaurant Depot anticipates great demand for its services from restaurants doing business in the region.
Cohen said a Restaurant Depot typically takes about a year to develop.
He said it would employ 35 to 40 people, with three or four managers shifting from existing Restaurant Depot stores.
Cohen said the store would be the company’s only one in New Hampshire for at least a couple of years.
Smith would like to see Londonderry get Restaurant Depot.
“I think this will be a very big deal for the town,” Smith said. “They are still in the conceptual phase right now, but they are a very reputable business.”
Londonderry’s location was absolutely a factor in the company’s consideration, Smith said.
Such a project would mean more tax revenue for the town. The similar-sized Hannaford store nearby, with 59,000 square feet, generates about $127,000 in taxes, albeit on a property with more acreage.
Assessor Karen Marchant said Restaurant Depot could still produce as much as $120,000 in taxes.
Officials in the town of Colonie, N.Y., last year estimated Restaurant Depot planned to spend $8.5 million to develop a store similar to the one proposed for Londonderry.
Restaurant Depot is based in College Point, N.Y. The company expects to double in size over the next five years.
“Restaurant Depot is a fantastic company,” said Lawrence DiBoni, economic development director in Cranston, R.I. “They are currently expanding their Cranston facility and are in for the long term.”
South African billionaire Nathan Kirsh, who maintains a home in the U.S., has a controlling interest in Restaurant Depot through the Jetro holding company.
Restaurant Depot would not be the first food-related business with national prominence in town.
FoodState, makes of the MegaFood dietary supplements, growing at 30 percent a year, has 165 employees at a plant near Boston-Manchester Regional Airport.
Freezer Warehouse on Rockingham Road last year opened an 87,000-square-foot addition, giving it nearly 150,000 square feet of space in town.
Smith said Londonderry isn’t targeting the food companies.
“Not necessarily, but certainly as word spreads we’re open to it,” he said. “We’ll welcome them in.”