Mac Hare, owner of Moe’s Southwest Grill, operated his restaurant for nine years off Dawson Road before moving to the former Office Max building behind The Albany Mall. Hare said Moe’s has a patio and ample parking and will eventually have a drive-through window.
ALBANY, Ga. -- There's a new business in the "old Office Max" building behind the Albany Mall and it's a familiar one to most in Albany -- Moe's Southwest Grill.
Moe's owner, Mac Hare, said his lease was up and couldn't be renegotiated to his satisfaction. For nine years Moe's had been at 2723 Dawson Road.
"My landlord wouldn't tell me anything," Hare said. "He dragged his feet then Moe's dragged their feet. I've been working on this project for two-and-a-half years."
Hare and a partner opened the restaurant, which specializes in custom Tex-Mex cuisine, in 2003 and signed a seven-year lease. Neither of the two entrepreneurs had food experience.
"I made corrugated boxes all my life," said Hare, 64. "I worked out at the Georgia Pacific Box plant for 25 years."
Hare answered the call of one his bosses to go to Memphis and help start a new plant. When the plant went bankrupt in a year, Hare was jobless and headed home to Albany. A childhood friend convinced him to go into partnership with a Moe's franchise. The association lasted around two years.
"Working together is like being married, I guess," Hare said. "He had one philosophy and I had another, so we sort of bumped heads. I ended up buying him out."
For a while, Hare considered moving near where Buffalo Wild Wings is now. He had a look, hired a construction company and "got some numbers." He was especially interested in the option of a drive-through window, something that wasn't possible at his former location.
"They wanted me to move on the side where the doughnut place was," Hare said. "That was fine with me. I said, 'That's cool. I'll move down there.'"
But when the time came, Hare said, "Everything had changed. Rent was higher than discussed, with less initial 'free rent.'" He let the opportunity pass and is happy for it now, he said.
He'd driven by the former Office Max building "a million times," he said and wondered about putting Moe's there, but thought it too expensive. He doubted the owner, Bob Brooks, would section it off. Finally, he called Brooks and the two of them worked out a deal.
He's satisfied now with parking capacity and visibility. Soon he'll have the drive-through he's been wanting and until then will have a call-in pick-up window, Hare said. There's a patio as well. Moe's has been down for about two weeks, but the 2,800-square-foot restaurant will be open at the new location at 11 a.m. today.