It was hard to tell who had the bigger smiles Monday morning at the Applebee’s groundbreaking hosted by Duncan Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The gold shovel event was just another official step to bringing Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar to Duncan and Stephens County.
On hand for the event were Applebee’s executives — Paul Tauscher, Vice President and Executive Director of Operations (EDO) of Concord Applebee’s, John McKinney, General Manager of the new Duncan restaurant, and Jody Murray, Director of Operations for all of Oklahoma’s Concord’s Applebee’s.
“I’ve never been involved in a groundbreaking before and this shows how excited this town is and how excited we are,” Tauscher said. “We feel like rockstars in Duncan.”
Tauscher said that it’s small cities like Duncan they prefer to locate in for a variety of reasons, citing the family atmosphere, donating to charities and school systems.
“This is strategic for us,” he said. “We look forward to getting involved in Duncan and we really appreciate everybody coming out.”
During the event, several people were recognized by Duncan Chamber President Chris Deal, for their key role in helping secure Applebee’s to Duncan. Deal said he is as excited about this venture as anyone.
“We are very grateful to Concord Applebee’s for selecting Duncan and for having confidence in the future of Duncan. We appreciate the significant investment that they are making in our community,” Deal said.
Duncan Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Loisdawn Jones encouraged Tauscher, McKinney and Murray to have the restaurant open by Nov. 10 in order to take advantage of the upcoming events at the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center. Those include the Fall Classic Hog Show and the Rising Stars Calf Roping event, both annual shows.
McKinney has already been named as general manager for the Duncan restaurant and said he will be arriving permanently Oct. 1.
Several questions were posed to the trio, including that of how people can apply for jobs. There are about 120 positions that will need to be filled, and at this time, there is not a place online, but it will soon be made available.
As soon as the groundbreaking was over, large equipment began moving dirt. It was obvious there was no time to spare if that Nov. 10 deadline would be met.
“That’s our goal, hopefully, to be open by then,” Tauscher said.
As reported in a previous story published and shown in related link, Applebee's will be located on U.S. Highway 81, between Pizza Hut and Urgent Med, on the east side of the highway.