Restaurant industry continues growing in Clovis

A server at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar spent Thursday training at the new restaurant. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

In the last year, Clovis has seen several national chains enter the restaurant market as well as numerous smaller chains and independent firms.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar, which will open Monday, according to company officials, is the latest to join a growing group.

The casual-themed restaurant features many culinary options, as well as a full bar. It will be the latest restaurant to enter the Clovis market, which has seen seven new entrants since November, according to city officials.

“Applebee’s is known internationally, and we definitely believe we will be a good asset to the Clovis area,” said Applebee’s General Manager Monica Bolivar. “We have a pretty great team we’ve hired.”

In all, the restaurant on Llano Estacado Boulevard has hired about 107 employees she said.

Chili’s, IHop and Quizno’s are some of the other national chains to enter the Clovis market in the last year.

The surging restaurant business here is welcome news for one Air Force man recently transferred to Cannon Air Force Base.

“Anything that comes in will be welcome,” said Roger Lantry, who said he has been in the Air Force for 23 years, most recently stationed in Hawaii. “I don’t think it’s that bad here, it’s got pretty good selection, I think.”

Cancun Mexican Restaurant on Mabry Drive has been open for about three months, and according to restaurant management, business is going well.

“(We have) something different from the other restaurants,” said Alicia Macias, manager at Cancun. “Some of our customers call it ‘Tex Mex,’ but it is very traditional Mexican food.”

The restaurant opened shortly before the Pentagon recommended Cannon Air Force Base for closure under this year’s Base Realignment and Closure process. However, that threat hasn’t slowed business.

“We haven’t noticed yet, not right now, “Macias said, “but we are sure it is going to be a big impact on our business (if Cannon closes).”

Leal’s Mexican Restaurant opened its second location Aug. 15 on Prince Street. Owner Laura Leal said a new restaurant in the market slows business in the short term, but eventually it comes around.

“Anytime a new place opens we feel it for a little while,” she said, “(but) overall I just think it’s good for the community to have a good selection of restaurants.”

There are 84 licensed restaurants in Clovis, according to city officials.

Clovis’ Applebee’s, a franchise unit being run by Atlanta-based Restaurant Concepts, began construction several months before the BRAC list was released.

The restaurant will operate seven days a week — from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday, Bolivar said. She said her new staff is really “gung-ho,” and ready to start working, adding that “people make the restaurant.”

Many of them were training Thursday at the restaurant.

The 5,326-square-foot restaurant is located about a block west of North Prince Street on Llano Estacado Boulevard. There are about 1,200 company-owned Applebee’s restaurants in the United States and about 460 owned by franchisees, according company officials.