The sale of Columbus’ Golden Corral restaurant creates an opening for a prime lot in the commercial district along National Road.

The building, at 1250 N. National Road, has been a restaurant under various owners for more than a decade, said Bob McDevitt, senior vice president of franchise development for the company.

The Columbus location was one of more than 400 Golden Corral franchise facilities throughout the United States, McDevitt said.

The franchise owner, CPB Foods — which paid $1.4 million to buy the restaurant in 2013 — had been in discussions to sell the property since late last summer, said Michael Cantey, one of the owners of CPB Foods, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.

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The property was assessed at $1.86 million in 2014, according to Bartholomew County property records.

Cantey said the deal to sell the restaurant was finalized in December, but he declined to reveal the developer who purchased the property. The property transfer has not yet been recorded in Bartholomew County, however.

An estimated 50 Golden Corral employees, including managers, are being offered transfers to the four Golden Corral locations near or in Indianapolis, Cantey said.

The now-closed 10,590-square-foot restaurant is on 1.66 acres in one of Columbus’ prime business districts, near the Lowe’s home-improvement store on the city’s east side.

The current restaurant building was constructed and completed in 2004, according to county tax records.

McDevitt said the restaurant was doing OK, but was beginning to show its age. Rather than having an older facility that seemed a bit rundown, the franchise owners decided to take the developer’s offer, he said.

Golden Corral has 504 restaurants nationwide, with 404 operated by franchise organizations and 100 that are owned and operated by the company, McDevitt said.

The restaurant chain opened its first 175-seat, 4,800-square-foot family steak house in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1973.

In the mid-1980s, the company introduced a new brand by introducing 400-plus seating restaurants in 11,000-square-foot buffet and grill style buildings.

The property is zoned “regional commercial,” which allows a wide variety of commercial options, said Jeff Bergman, Columbus-Bartholomew County planning director.

Those would include retail, office space or a restaurant — almost anything that fits in a commercial zone, he said.

If the new property owners plan to use the current building, and met the zoning requirements, they would not be required to file paperwork for approval with the city, he said.

However, if the developer plans to add onto or tear down the building, the plans would need city approval, he said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.