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Outback can now put these kinds of signs at its Dawson County location after Planning Commission's vote
Restaurant could open before the end of 2023
Outback update 2023
Photo courtesy of Dawson County Planning and Development. - photo by Julia Hansen

An incoming Australian-themed restaurant has now cleared the next hurdle in the process to establish a location in Dawson County. 

The Dawson County Planning Commission voted unanimously 4-0 to grant Outback Steakhouse’s request for a signage variance on March 21. 

With the vote, Outback can now look forward to a planned opening date in December 2023, said Joint Venture Partner Ken Chamberlain. 

Chamberlain helps own and operate Outbacks across the north metro Atlanta area. Outback’s variance approval follows DCN’s February reporting about the restaurant’s forthcoming Dawson County location at 3862 Dawson Forest Road East.

The new Outback will be set on a 1.9-acre tract behind the Olive Garden and across from the planned Whataburger on Wallace Boulevard. 

Contractors broke ground on the Dawson County site last week, Chamberlain said. 

This variance to the Dawson County Sign Ordinance will allow the chain location to place Australian continent wall maps on two facades and add an extra sign on the restaurant’s western side.

During a public presentation with Chamberlain, signage professional Greg Barkley called the Dawson County Outback’s design, with its Australia maps and logo on each side with right of way or parking, a “prototype.”

The location along Ga. 400 will be one of the first such locations in Georgia with the new design, Barkley said.

Barkley added that the lighting for the fourth sign will be internal with a diffuser so it’s not too bright. The Australia maps will be halo lit, so the wall art will be illuminated from their sides, he said.

Chamberlain said that with traffic on the building’s back side along Wallace Boulevard, being able to recognize the eatery from all sides was “pretty important to us.”

“Just out of curiosity, is the fourth sign or art image more important?”, said Planning Commission Chairman Jason Hamby.

Because of the new brand identification associated with the Australian map, Chamberlain said the art was “more important.”

This isn’t the first time county officials have addressed a restaurant chain’s proposed signage. 

During talks about an amendment to the signage ordinance, Board of Commissioners Chairman Billy Thurmond called the county’s unwillingness to grant a facade-related variance the reason for losing out on the Cracker Barrel off of Forsyth County’s Exit 14. 

“I think you can easily say that that was a $500,000-a-year mistake or more,” Thurmond said last February.

Then in March of 2022, the BOC approved that amendment to the sign ordinance. Now, businesses wanting to vary their facades can go before just the Planning Commission to vouch for how alternative sign designs still meet the ordinance’s intent. 

DCN will update this story closer to the time of the Dawson County Outback’s opening.