Residents of Valencia County and beyond will soon be able to enjoy dinner and a movie all in one area.
A Southwestern grill known for its fajitas, babyback ribs and margaritas is coming to Los Lunas. Construction is under way for Chili’s Grill and Bar on land near the Starlight Cinema belonging to developer Max Kiehne.
“We’re excited they’re coming in, especially to that area,” said Village Administrator Phillip Jaramillo. “It enhances the movies as a place where people can eat. Chili’s, along with KFC, which is also in the same area, provides a nice location where people can take an evening, have dinner and go to a movie.”
The Los Lunas restaurant marks the eighth Chili’s in New Mexico. The building, which will be 5,555 square feet, is expected to open by January of 2003 in Sun Ranch Village, according to Todd Moxworthy, district manager for Chili’s.
“We’re very happy to be in Los Lunas,” Moxworthy said. “We’re excited to have the chance to get down there and meet people.”
Besides their specialty fajitas and ribs, Chili’s cooks up a wide variety of dishes such as chicken salad, sandwich platters and shrimp.
“We have excellent hamburgers,” Moxworthy says. “There’s something for everyone at Chili’s.”
Los Lunas Community Development Director Art Mondragon said the construction of Chili’s restaurant is just the start of big business coming to Los Lunas. Hastings Entertainment is already in full-swing, and a Wal-Mart Supercenter and Home Depot are both slated to open in early 2003. Wal-Mart could open as early as Christmas.
“Businesses like restaurants always seem to do pretty well here,” he said. “We’re going to receive a lot of businesses that normally go into a metro area.”
The growth in development is healthy for Los Lunas, Mon-dragon says. “We’re expecting to benefit from businesses located there. The service industry increases local shopping.
“The movie theater has been a catalyst for restaurants and service type businesses moving in,” he said. “They follow each other.”
According to Mondragon, the Village of Los Lunas should see an increase in gross receipts taxes from the onslaught of new businesses.
“Wal-Mart and Home Depot are the anchors. Because of them, we’re able to provide better services to the community. They make our budget healthier.”
Diane Huckabee, director of the Los Lunas-Bosque Farms Chamber of Commerce, said new businesses, such as Chili’s, will help everyone in the community.
“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “Any new business that will bring people in from the outside will help all of us. It’s pretty incredible the number of new businesses that are opening and the number of people moving their small businesses here from other cities.”
It’s not just about eating and shopping in Los Lunas, Huckabee said. “Everything that comes here creates one less reason to go outside Valencia County. That’s exciting. It offers more employment opportunities and keeps people here rather than leaving Valencia County to go to work. They don’t have to commute.”
Developer Max Kiehne said “We’ve very excited about it. Chili’s is a really good company. I think it’s a great addition to Los Lunas. We’re happy it’s coming to our community.””