Applebees looks to open restaurant in Los Lunas, hire 75 to 80 jobs

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Applebee's Bar and Grill is planning to open a restaurant in Los Lunas.

The location selected by the restaurant franchise is the northwest corner of Main Street and Los Cerritos Drive, in front of the Lowes home improvement store in Los Lunas.

It isn't official until the building permit is purchased, said code enforcer Adolph Lopez.

But the national restaurant chain is taking the necessary steps to get established, and hopes to begin construction this year and open in 2013, said Greg Moran of Mgb Development out of Denver, the firm that constructs Applebee's.

The Los Lunas Village Council approved an alcohol distance ordinance waiver at its meeting on Thursday, July 12.

Mayor Robert Vialpando was not present, and Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Lovato presided over the council's regular.

John Hamilton, who purchased the land in partnership with family members five years ago, said he had the land platted for the Lowes, and always intended the corner pad of the property be used for a restaurant that served liquor or a drug store that would have a liquor department, he said.

"We have made an arrangement with a national restaurant chain to put a restaurant on the corner — that's primarily a restaurant — and then discovered, after we'd made the agreement, that a church had moved in to the Los Cerritos Center across the street," Hamiliton said.

"And so, technically, that's within 300 feet and you're not allowed to have a liquor license issued."

"If anybody knows the Applebee's chain, it is a family-oriented, casual dining restaurant," Moran said. "This is truly a restaurant, with the ability to sell liquor — it is not a bar."

Liquor sales are estimated to be about 25 to 30 percent of the restaurant's total annual sales.

This particular dining place would be about 5,425 square feet with about 104 parking spaces on the side of the building.

"Our investment in the building would be over $3 million," Moran said. "The construction costs $1.6 million."

The franchise would bring 75 to 80 new jobs to the community, plus annual revenue from sales tax.

"Not all of those would be full-time jobs, some of those would be part-time, but clearly new jobs is always good," Moran said.

Mgb Development is under contract to buy the property from Hamilton and his group.

"We are working to do our due diligence and are anxious to move forward," Moran said.

The next step for Applebee's is to pursue a liquor license from the state, and once that is obtained, apply for a building permit from the village.

In other business, the council:

• Approved the entire union negotiated contract for the Los Lunas Fire Department Local 4297 with the village, but there won't be any pay increases until the village budget is finalized.

If village employees receive a raise, the fire department will receive the same percent pay increase as approved by the council.

Only small changes were made in the negotiated fire department contract, such as clarifying language in the employee rights handbook, a guaranteed minimum call back pay of at least one hour, and holiday pay on the actual holiday, not the observed holiday.

• Approved an amendment to the engine break ordinance to prohibit the use of engine brakes (18 wheel truck jake breaks) for unreasonable noise within the village limits.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation will provide and maintain the signs prohibiting the engine break use.

• Approved hiring Carlos Telles, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor McPhee, Robert Ortiz and Sylvia Garcia for the recreation division.

• Approved in-state and out-of-state travel for employees to attend conferences, training and leadership development.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.