Chili's to hit Boone
Boone is about to "pepper in some flavor."
Chili's Grill and Bar is on its way to the High Country.
Chili's has submitted a site plan to Boone Development Services for the building previously occupied by Port Christopher's on Blowing Rock Road near Walmart.
"It's pretty much going to be the same building, but they're going to do a lot of cosmetic upgrades," Boone senior planning supervisor Ricky Hurley said of the plan, submitted Jan. 22.
Proposed property changes include closing off the driveway and adding landscaping.
"It's not going to be a radically different layout," Hurley said. "I think they're really trying to give it that Chili's look and feel."
It's a location that has gained notoriety for restaurant closures, but sources within the company are optimistic it will fare better than its predecessors, Wishbones American Grill and Baxter's Smokehouse Barbecue.
Chili's menu items include "Big Mouth Burgers," carne asada steak and the baby back ribs made famous by the popular jingle.
According to the Chili's Web site, the restaurant opened in 1975 as a burger joint in Dallas, Texas, priding itself "on our humble beginnings, following a devotion to great food, warm hospitality and community spirit," citing a commitment of giving back to the communities that helped it grow.
Chili's will mark the first big restaurant chain to hit Boone since the liquor by the drink initiative (LBTD) passed in 2008.
Before the initiative, many chains had avoided committing to Boone due to its LBTD ban.
Opponents of the initiative, including Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson, had feared competition from nationwide chains would oust locally run establishments.
"I think it's fine," she said on Tuesday, "I like Chili's restaurant."
Local LBTD advocate and Boone Saloon owner Skip Sinanian is not afraid of the competition.
"It's not going to change anything," Sinanian said. "It is what it is. People who come to downtown come to downtown. People who really like those run-of-the-mill chains, that's what they like."
If Chili's is what you like, get ready, because sources within the company say the ball is rolling quickly, though there's no word on when the bar is set to open.
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