Just in time for the Fourth of July, the exploding popularity of a potential Pal’s Sudden Service in Abingdon has blanketed Facebook with groups, polls, surveys and fan songs.
That’s all been part of the community’s response to five members of the Friends of Abingdon Inc., who have challenged the validity of the certificate of appropriateness awarded by the five-member Abingdon Planning Commission on May 20 to place a Pal’s at The Meadows. The town council dismissed the appeal at its Monday meeting but not before hundreds of residents rushed to defend the fast-food chain.
Friends of Abingdon members said they have nothing against Pal’s. In fact, they praised the award-winning company in a three-page appeal to Town Manager Jimmy Morani.
But their appeal implied that the signature teal-colored Pal’s Sudden Service building — with a giant hot dog and hamburger — just does not conform to codes.
In the wake of all that, Washington County recently became the birthplace of the 2,700-member-strong Friends of Pal’s of Abingdon, a Facebook group with a patriotic theme — “Life, liberty and Frenchie fries.”
This “Friends” group owes its origin to 18-year-old Mary Walters and her father, Chris Walters, a 52-year-old financial adviser with an office in the old Washington County News building on Abingdon’s Main Street, just across from the Martha Washington Inn.
This father-daughter duo lives in the Watauga section of Washington County on the outskirts of Abingdon.
And they both love Pal’s.
“My dad and I were talking, and we thought it would get some of the members of the town and give them a platform,” said Mary Walters, a 2018 graduate of Abingdon High School. “I didn’t realize how many people it was important to and how many people it would reach.”
Chris Walters, 52, said, “It’s been interesting to see how a lot of the younger folks who have raised a voice on this issue [are] just ready to move forward on this project.”
Mary Walters praises the group’s members.
“I think this is an example of people in the community taking a real role in their community and the citizens of Abingdon taking charge and speaking up for something that they feel is important to them,” said Mary Walters, who currently attends the College of Charleston, South Carolina.
“I’m really proud how people have talked across party lines,” Mary Walters added. “They have spoken eloquently and civilly to each other, and I hope that attitude carries.”