South Anchorage Chili's Grill sets national sales records

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2002

ANCHORAGE -- A busy South Anchorage corridor has proven successful for the franchise operator of Chili's Grill & Bar. Now, two other restaurateurs are moving to the neighborhood: national hamburger franchise Carl's Jr. and Alaska-operated Wayne's Original Texas Bar-B-Que.

Alaska's first national Chili's has set sales records since opening on Abbott Road about five months ago.

The Anchorage Chili's has been No. 1 in sales every week for about 20 weeks, said John Dehaven, director of development for the Alaska franchisee. The company missed the top spot only twice, he said.

"We've been doing very well," Dehaven said. "We've been very lucky for the location."

Sales at Chili's in Anchorage have topped average expectations for the chain, said Tim Smith, spokesperson for Dallas-based Chili's parent company, Brinker International.

Average annual revenues typically are about $3 million, he said. Only 190 Chili's are franchises, out of 835 Chili's locations worldwide, Smith said. The restaurant has locations in 49 states and 22 countries.

Franchise operator Duke Investments LLC recently purchased the adjoining 1.5 acres for additional parking and a possible future restaurant.

Part of the property will provide needed extra parking, increasing capacity from 88 spaces to 153 spaces, Dehaven said. Graders prepared the lot in mid-October, and paving is scheduled for next year, he said.

The Alaska Chili's operators are considering building a Romano's Macaroni Grill, a sister restaurant, at the Abbott Road site, Dehaven said.

But first, Duke Investments must complete its franchise agreement to build three Chili's in five years, Dehaven said. David Duke, owner of Duke's 8th Avenue Hotel in Anchorage, acquired the Alaska franchise rights for Chili's two years ago.

The company is mulling sites for its next restaurant including a second Anchorage restaurant or sites in Eagle River or Fair-banks, he said.

"More than likely, we'll probably go to Fairbanks," Dehaven said.

Duke Investments may end up with five Chili's in Alaska, he said.

"We'll build one to two Chili's each year for the next two years," Dehaven said.

A replacement Carrs Quality Center on Abbott Road is due to open early next year and could further buoy sales for next-door neighbor Chili's, Dehaven said.

Fred Meyer, which opened an nearby Abbott Road store in February, already draws Anchorage residents to the area.

Debra and Jerry Kinn of Anchorage aim to piggyback on the busy location. They are building the state's first Carl's Jr. adjacent to Fred Meyer. The restaurant is due to open Nov. 4, according to Carl's Jr. spokesperson Judy Lynes.

The Kinns operate J&D Restaurants Inc., which acquired the franchise rights to build 10 Alaska Carl's Jr. restaurants in eight years.

Restaurateur Wayne Bond plans to open a Wayne's Original Texas Bar-B-Que takeout location on Abbott Road in Novem-ber.

"We're just down there testing the market, and I think it's going to do well," Bond said.

Bond has moved a 48-foot trailer, equipped with two barbecue pits and other restaurant equipment, to a 100-foot by 300-foot lot.

A nine-month test period may indicate potential for building a restaurant in the area, he said.

"We think the market is very good for South Anchorage," Bond said.

The barbecue trailer relocated to South Anchorage served Wasilla from November to May. Bond ended business there due to poor results during a market test.

"We were going to build a restaurant there," Bond said.

Bond recently has revamped his Anchorage barbecue eatery. Meals now are served on plates rather than butcher paper. Also, the menu now includes numbered meal choices so ordering is less complicated.

Wayne's Original Texas Bar-B-Que features live country music six nights each week on a corner stage.

"People love the music. It's part of the concept," Bond said.

Nancy Pounds is a reporter for the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

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