MANCHESTER - A Subway restaurant appears headed Manchester's way.

On Monday, Sept. 30, a zoning permit was issued for a change of use for the building that formerly housed the Garnet Hill retail store in the Equinox Square Plaza along Depot Street to allow for the opening of a new Subway restaurant, a national chain known for its wrapped sandwiches.The building sits at the back of the plaza, which is adjacent to the former Friendly's Restaurant and a town-owned parking lot which serves customers of three nearby outlet stores.

The permit allows for a restaurant with 18 seats, and will take up about 1,500 square feet of the former Garnet Hill building. That means it will occupy about one-third of the commercial space in that building, which is being refurbished. Another 3,000 square feet of commercial space is available in the rest of building.

According to documents filed with the town's planning and zoning department by Equinox Square Associates LLC, the development group which purchased the 1.77 acre property out of foreclosure from the National Life Insurance Co. last July, the restaurant would be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and serve three meals a day. Between 10-15 people would likely be employed there.

An opening is anticipated for the second half of December, said Peter Keelan, one of the principal officers with Equinox Square Associates. Subway had explored opening a restaurant late last year and was considering the building which had been the home of Real Sports, next door to McDonalds. That scenario failed to work out, largely due to concerns around the lack of sufficient parking spaces, Keelan said, and the project never got off the ground.

"We had heard Subway was looking around so we did some digging," he said.

A local real estate broker, Carmen DeNatale of Phoenix Commercial put them together with Christopher Giglio, of Giglio Holdings LLC, a which is based in Buskirk, N.Y., and which currently operates several other Subway franchise restaurants, according to Keelan. They were the same management team exploring the Real Sports site earlier, Keelan said.

Messages left for Giglio Holdings seeking comment on their interest in opening up a new franchise in Manchester were not returned as of press time on Wednesday.

"The thing they liked about this site was that you have very good parking in front of the store which is key," he said, adding that another advantage was the internal link to the town-owned parking lot which is linked in turn to the plaza where the Price Chopper supermarket store is located.

"They liked the location; even though they are not right on the road they feel their sign is pretty well recognized," he said.

The Subway will have a sign on the main plaza sign along Depot Street along with the other businesses located there, which currently include Coldwater Creek, Carter's and the Take Five daycare center.

In addition to acquiring its zoning permit, the restaurant has also acquired a needed sewer and water permit, according to the documents filed with the town office.

There were no reasons not to issue the permits, said Lee Krohn, the town's planning director and zoning administrator. It was a legal use of the property, and beyond that, he had no further comment, he said.

The administrative narrative that accompanied the zoning permit approval noted that the restaurant met the needed minimum of nine parking spaces for a restaurant of that size. Any expansion of the restaurant that might be considered would require further review. The permit is also conditioned by requirement that the business operate as a "restaurant" as defined in the zoning ordinance, and not "restaurant, fast food." Otherwise, the parking requirements would be different, the permit states.

The permit will go into effect after a two week appeal period has passed, which would occur around Oct. 14.

Subway has modified its operational model so it meets the definition of a restaurant, Keelan said. The Manchester Subway will offer silverware instead of plastic utensils, and the food and sandwiches will be served in baskets and not just wrapped, he said.

Clean up work on the buildings within the plaza should be completed in about two weeks. There remain two spaces left for leasing; the 3,000 square feet in the former Garnet Hill Building that will not be taken by Subway, and another 3,000 square feet in the building next door where Carter's is currently, Keelan said.