To celebrate the opening of the new Parker’s Kitchen convenience store on Lanier Drive in Statesboro last Friday, company founder and CEO Greg Parker presented a $25,000 “Fueling the Community” check to Bulloch County Schools for student and teacher support programs.

Speaking to the crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting and check presentation, he also shared a little of his company’s history and a look at its current and planned growth. He said that in 1976, when he founded the company, he was its only employee. Now the Parker chain, headquartered in Savannah, is approaching 1,300 employees and has 78 stores.

“We now have three more stores in development here. …,” Parker said. “We have 15 stores currently under construction, and we will be opening 90 new stores over the next four years.”

Parker’s Kitchen is now open at 141 Lanier Drive, near Paulson Stadium, and was actually built on the site of a former longtime Parker’s retail store. But while redeveloping the site, the company reoriented the building and expanded its scope to include the site next door to the former car wash.

The new store is Parker’s Kitchen rather than just Parker’s because it offers fresh food items for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a wide selection of convenience items.

Outside, the store has 16 fueling locations for regular gasoline, ethanol-free gasoline and diesel.

Bullock County’s newest Parker kitchen features “Lowcountry-inspired architecture,” with lime-washed brick around expansive glass on the front and designer lighting.

“At Parker’s, we are continuing our strategic transition from a convenience store company that sells food services to a food service company that provides convenience,” Parker said, as stated in a media release provided by Capricorn Communications. “We are excited about the future and believe Bullock County is a great market for the Parker’s Kitchen brand.”

3 other stores

Two of the three additional stores being developed by Drayton-Parker Companies in Bulloch County are located within Statesboro city limits.

Parker’s Kitchen on Northside Drive (U.S. Highway 80) at its intersection with North Main Street is taking shape quickly with some obvious similarities to the newly opened Lanier Drive store. When the Northside Drive location is completed, Parker’s will face Savannah-based competitor Enmarket, which has a fixed station across North Main.

Across town, Statesboro’s other new Parker Kitchen will be within city limits, since the City Council annexed the 3.8-acre site at the intersection of Georgia Highway 67 and Burkhalter Road to Statesboro last October. The Drayton-Parker Companies requested the annexation, which was done “100%” with the approval of the previous owners of three small parcels of land that were combined as the future store location.

When this was announced, there were already five Parker’s stores located in Bulloch County.

In addition, Drayton-Parker Companies LLC has a site in Bulloch County several miles south of Statesboro, off U.S. Highway 301 at 42 Neville Dairy Road, not far from the I-16 interchange, and has applied for a building permit in Boycott.

Community support

Parker spoke of his and the company’s support for Georgia Southern University, Bullock County Schools and public safety personnel. Police Chief Mike Brodhead and several other members of the Statesboro Police Department were welcomed to the ceremony.

“We are committed to being part of the community in Statesboro and appreciate the support of our loyal customers across Bullock County,” Parker said in the media release.

Through its Fueling the Community program, Parker donates one cent for every gallon of gas purchased at its convenience stores on the first Wednesday of every month to area schools. Customers in Parker’s Rewards and PumpPal card loyalty programs, in which more than 300,000 individuals are said to participate, can direct their share of donations to a specific school.

$25,000 to BCS

Parker presented a large ceremonial check for $25,000 made out to Bulloch County Schools to Brad Boykin, the school system’s assistant superintendent for business services.

“Most of the money we get goes directly to our schools,” Boykin said. “The remaining funds are used for our Teacher of the Year program, and we are able to offer Teacher of the Year scholarships to all of our winning teachers, which is a great thing that they definitely appreciate. So every bit of this money goes to a great cause.”

In previous annual community nutrition donations to Bulloch County Schools, about three-quarters of the money was allocated to individual schools and about a quarter remained in the school district for the Teacher of the Year program, according to district public relations Hayley Green.

With the actual, normal-sized check, the program includes a list of amounts allocated to specific schools.

“Our schools use them in positive behavior intervention systems, in events for students, and also in health and motivational events for teachers and other staff,” Green said. “It is up to the discretion of schools how they use it.”

The program has provided more than $2 million to schools in Georgia and South Carolina since 2011, Parker reported.

Another of the company’s initiatives is a comprehensive campaign in which customers give their change to the next dollar to help women experiencing homelessness. The company matches 25% of these donations to Parker House for Women in Savannah.

The Parker Community Fund directs donations to “education, healthcare and heroes.” In February, that fund made a $5 million donation to Roper-St. Francis Healthcare in Charleston, South Carolina to expand access to health care for uninsured and underinsured people.

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