Serving it up: As population increases in West Lubbock, so do dining opportunities

Several restaurant owners opened up about the experience of running a business in Frenship.

One marketing director said locating in the Frenship area could work for many other businesses as well as it has for his.

“We see that Frenship area as a critical piece of growth. Any time you have the kind of growth that you’re seeing in that area, you need to build the infrastructure to service that group,” said Kent Dean, the director of field marketing with Rosa’s Cafe.

Rosa’s Cafe opened its fourth Lubbock-area location near the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and U.S. 62/82 more than a year ago.

Dean sees Rosa’s as an early arriver on the growing Frenship scene.

“It’s certainly been growing and growing all around us,” he said.

When restaurant owners look at opening a new business, Dean said, they like to have a lot of homes nearby, but finding a mix of retail stores nearby as well as homes is a delicate balance.

Locate in the middle of too many stores, and you sacrifice having a dinner crowd, Dean said, while being in the middle of a residential neighborhood would cost the lunch crowd.

The location on Milwaukee Avenue seems to be a good mix, Dean said, with the added benefit of people heading home who stop by to get dinner at the drive-thru.

Building multiple restaurants, Dean said, is a risk as well. The first business you hurt is your own when you open a second business offering the same product.

“What you want to do, is you want to go back and rebuild a fair amount of business for your new store, and not just take away business from your other stores,” said Dean.

With the numerous Rosa’s locations in Lubbock and in West Texas, each new restaurant runs that risk, Deansaid, but the new restaurant in Frenship worked out.

“Within a year and a half, we’ve replaced the full amount of business we might have cannibalized from ourself,” said Dean.

He said the key to Rosa’s success is that customers can use it to fit their purposes, be it pulling together tables for a large gathering after church, business meetings or just a quick lunch.

But he said the location would work for a number of other businesses.

Other restaurant workers in Frenship seemed to agree with Dean that growth created the need for their businesses in West Lubbock.

Cayce Davis, manager of Taco Villa on South Milwaukee Avenue near 82nd Street, said the growth trending toward Southwest Lubbock drove the decision to locate in Frenship less than a year ago.

“In a general business sense, it makes sense to have a new location in the southwest part of town,” said Davis.

Julie Davis, spokeswoman for Cracker Barrel, said it’s been more than three years since the company opened a restaurant and store on Milwaukee Avenue.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurants generally open along an interstate, but sometimes locate near a busy highway, Davis said, noting that Lubbock’s restaurant location obviously fits that description, being near U.S. 62/82.

The other big reason a Cracker Barrel is located in a certain area is that research shows the area has growth potential, she said.

“It’s a multimillion-dollar investment,” said Julie Davis, and Lubbock’s growth fit the bill.

But for Justin Barnard, opening West Crust Pizza on 82nd Street in the Frenship area wasn’t a strategic decision.

Oh, sure, he said, locating on the west side of Lubbock worked with the name West Crust. And it was nice that the building was located in the newer part of town, because the business concept for artisan pizza pies fit in there.

Barnard said being in Frenship has worked out great.

“There’s been, in the last five years, a lot of food places pop up from Wolfforth down to Frankford on 82nd Street,” said Barnard.

He said he was really happy that people came by while the building was being remodeled and told him how excited they were that the restaurant was locating there.

And nowadays, those people make up a good deal of the customers.

While Barnard said the business plan was to pursue about 10 percent of people who care enough about having a good pizza baked in a brick oven that they would get in the car and travel to eat it, that has not occurred.

“It hasn’t happened quite like that necessarily. A lot of our customer base is people who drive by every day,” he said. While he said a large percentage of customers “roll down from Tech” via the Marsha Sharp Freeway, another large group of customers is older, lives in the surrounding area and sometimes even thanks the employees just for being located there.

They are thankful to have “something different and something gourmet,” Barnard said.

What has surprised him the most is the attitude of those who live in Central Lubbock, less than 10 minutes away, he said, who seem to think it is too far to travel to West 82nd Street.

“Frankford seems to be kind of like the psychological dividing line for a lot of people,” said Barnard. “It’s seen as such a different area from Lubbock.”

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