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Qdoba restaurant coming to Hays





There are two new restaurants opening in Hays, and there's more to come, Aaron White, executive director of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, said Tuesday.

White said the owner of the Long John Silver's restaurant at 3380 Vine plans to add a Qdoba Mexican Grill on the property, and Terry Kinderknecht, a local traveling barbecue and caterer, has a lease to open a barbecue restaurant at the former Cafe Semolino, 110 W. 11th.

White said the Qdoba franchise will be the fourth for the owners. He said they already have franchises in Hutchinson, Wichita and Salina. They are working on the site plan for the Hays location, he said.

"They have some layout issues to resolve," White said. "Every corporate office, every national retailer has parking space requirements that have to be met. You have to be sure your site can meet all the corporate requirements. They're figuring that out.

"Last time I talked to them, their intent was to move quickly. They want to get it up and get going."

White said a recent survey had a barbecue restaurant high on the wish list for local residents; Kinderknecht's barbecue restaurant will be the second new one in recent months, in addition to the Smoking Barrel, 1006 Cody.

"It's a great use of the space; it's a great location," White said of Kinderknecht's downtown location. "We're glad to see a nice business is coming back there."

White said there is more to follow. He's just not ready to announce yet.

"We've actually got a number of retailers that are looking at Hays again," he said. "I guess it's partly a sign the economy (is better), partly a change in comfort in the Hays market, confidence in the Hays market, the ability to draw clients.

"When we get permission to announce, you'll have a couple good announcements to make. We haven't gone far enough in the negotiations yet where we can take it public. We got one national chain store that's negotiating right now; we've got some others that are looking."