By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Portales can begin preparing for the return of the King — Burger King that is.
Roger Simer, who recently reopened Burger King in Clovis is now working hard to get a restaurant open in Portales.
They hope to have the former Burger King location at Second Street and South Avenue J open sometime in March, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Simer said he and his wife, who moved to Clovis from Arkansas, explored Burger King franchise options across the country before deciding that New Mexico would be the best fit for them.
“The business model here in New Mexico was the most attractive,”Simer said. “The people here in New Mexico are so friendly and receptive and the brand needed representation.”
Simer, who has been a Burger King operator as an employee for other franchisees said he was excited to get his first opportunity for controlling ownership of his own franchise stores. In addition to Clovis and Portales, the Simers also bought an Artesia location that had been closed as well.
“I’ve been working on purchasing the purchase of Portales for the last two years,” Simer said. “I’ve heard nothing but positives, the Burger King brand is strong here.”
Simer said the Clovis operation, which opened last summer is doing well and he’s pleased with the operational success it’s seen.
In Portales Ashley Construction is currently doing concrete work that will change the entry points to the restaurant and make access into the parking lot and drive-thru easier than it was when it closed in 2005.
Simer’s also changing the store entrance and putting in all new tile, fixtures and furniture.
“In my opinion it just looked a little tired,” Simer said of the decor package. “This will bring it up to the standards people expect from a new restaurant.”
Simer says he expects to eventually have 40-50 hourly employees and probably eight manager positions.
“I think seeing Burger King back up and running is a good thing for the city,” said Greg Fisher, economic development recruiter with the Roosevelt County Community Development Corporation. “It’s going to provide some vitality close to the university.”
Fisher said the part-time jobs will fill a need for employment for college students and at the same time provide a later evening location for students.
“The kids are great kids and they’ll make great customers and good employees,” Simer agreed.
Simer started to advertise for employment this week and he said in another week as work progresses and the store becomes more habitable he’ll be ramping up the hiring effort.