June was a busy month for Humboldt Station, as both Burger King and Sonic opened their doors on consecutive days. Burger King began serving the public on June 8, and Sonic followed on June 9.
“Burger King and Sonic will provide new dining options for the 7,000 employees in Humboldt Industrial Park and the thousands of people who travel the busy Interstate 81 corridor each day,” CAN DO President Kevin O’Donnell said.
The new Burger King is owned by Eugene and Denise Welsh’s company, GDK Development. Eugene, a native of the area, is a graduate of the former Hazleton High School. The Welshes own 11 other Burger King restaurants throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania and employ more than 450 people in their restaurant operations.
“We are happy to be part of this community. It’s great to have a restaurant in my hometown,” Welsh said at the restaurant’s grand opening.
CAN DO Chairman John Spevak said, “I’ve personally visited Gene’s restaurants. It’s obvious his entrepreneurial talent means customer service and business success.”
The new restaurant is located at the entrance to Humboldt Station. It features a drive-through window at the front of the restaurant and a parking lot in the back for tractor-trailers.
The chain is relatively new to northeastern Pennsylvania and has been expanding at a rapid pace in recent years.
“Greater Hazleton is glad to be a part of the ‘Sonic boom’ that has taken place over the past five years. During that short period of time, almost 900 new Sonic drive-ins have opened – many of them in the northeastern United States – expanding the size of the chain by almost one-third,” O’Donnell said.
Sonic now operates in 42 states, having entered 13 new states in just the last four years. The chain now includes more than 3,500 drive-in restaurants all across the country.
Sean Kelly, CEO of NEPA Burgers, Inc., which owns the new restaurant, said, “This is the first Sonic in the Hazleton area. We are very excited to be part of this commercial development by CAN DO and we hope to be part of the future vision of the Hazleton area.”
Humboldt Station, CAN DO’s first commercial real estate development, has continued to grow since 2008, when Residence Inn by Marriott opened. The hotel was soon followed by a Turkey Hill gas station and convenience store.
“We are pleased to welcome these two restaurants to Humboldt Station. As part of our commitment to improving Greater Hazleton, CAN DO decided to develop this parcel of formerly blighted land for use by commercial and retail enterprises. We anticipate several additional businesses in Humboldt Station, including more family and fast-food restaurants,” said CAN DO Vice President of Sales and Marketing Joseph Lettiere.