Updated Sun, Mar 9, 2014 7:44 am
Nearly 900 people have applied for jobs at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant slated to open in Athens on March 24.
The restaurant will have 160 jobs available and has already hired that many people, although managing partner Deedra Semones said Friday that applications are still being accepted.
The restaurant, construction of which is nearing completion, is located at 996 E. State St. in front of the Market on State mall. The restaurant had a hiring office set up inside the mall accepting applications dating back to Feb. 11 but closed the office on Saturday. People can still be able to apply online at apply.texasroadhouse.com.
Semones said that as of noon Friday, 885 people had applied for the 160 jobs. People were contacting Texas Roadhouse about jobs in the Athens before the hiring office was opened, she said.
That 885 compares to about 300 people who applied in 2011 for jobs at a Texas Roadhouse in Pikeville, Ky., Semones said. However, Neal Niklaus of Columbus, who is market partner for the Athens restaurant, said that three or four years ago there were 3,000 applicants for a Texas Roadhouse opening in Findlay, Ohio.
Semones said the new hires for the Athens restaurant are going through “mini orientation” and will start training March 17.
While 160 might seem like a large number of employees for a restaurant, Semones said it’s partly due to Texas Roadhouse cooking from scratch, including cutting its own meat.
“We’re a scratch-based restaurant, so it takes a lot of people,” Semones said.
She said that on a typical Friday and Saturday there will be about 30 kitchen employees and about 50 people working the front of the house.
The Athens restaurant is company-owned, although Niklaus and Semones are also part owners. Niklaus brought in Semones as managing partner, and she recently purchased a home in Nelsonville, she said.
Niklaus, who indicated he is involved with 21 Texas Roadhouse restaurants, said the presence of Ohio University was a major factor in deciding to open in Athens.
“We usually go to smaller towns. This being a college town was probably one of the major reasons for coming here,” Niklaus said. “The other locations where we are in college towns we do really well.”
Another factor in deciding on Athens, he said, is that there are Texas Roadhouse restaurants in Lancaster and Parkersburg that draw customers from Athens, meaning Athens people are already familiar with the restaurant.
“We really try to be involved in the community as much as possible,” Niklaus said.
For example, there are Spirit Nights that serve as fundraisers for organizations that invite guests, with 10 percent of those guests’ bills donated back to the organization, he said. Also, Texas Roadhouse provides packaged peanuts at cost to school groups that sell them for a profit at sporting events.
Texas Roadhouse will be open Mondays through Thursdays, 4-10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. There will be call-ahead seating