WATERVILLE — A national burger chain, after initially expressing interest in the city’s former Friendly’s Restaurant in 2015 before ultimately backing out, has signed a lease to take over the vacant space on Main Street.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which has more than 1,000 locations across the country, signed a lease for the spot on 373 Main St. on June 1, a day after the lease for Friendly’s ran out, according to Andy Rosenthal, who owns the parcel. He said he had heard the timeline for opening was before the end of the year, but was not sure if that was still on schedule.

In Maine, the restaurant has locations in Augusta, Bangor, Biddeford, Brunswick, Portland and South Portland.

The former Friendly’s building is 3,600 square feet and is on part of a larger parcel that includes buildings housing Little Caesars, Advance Auto Parts, Cigaret Shopper and Grease Lightning. It’s near the on- and off-ramps for exit 130 on Interstate 95.

Friendly’s closed in 2014, with company officials citing a lack of business. The former Friendly’s had been listed by the Portland-based The Dunham Group, but it was no longer featured on the available listings for Waterville. Five Guys had expressed interest in the property before, but negotiations fell through because of a lease issue.

A new tenant was expected to have been announced in the spring, but no announcement was ever released.

Five Guys has indicated they are seeking job candidates on the career hunting website Indeed.com, where they advertise for candidates for the management team. It did not appear that they had advertised for actual kitchen jobs, and the company’s website did not yet list a Waterville location.

Phone and email messages left for Five Guys media relations office were not returned this week. It’s not clear how many people the restaurant would employ or when it plans to officially open.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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