Survey asking what kind of restaurant Aurora needs most

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What’s for lunch or supper, Aurora?
If you and your friends or family are hungry and looking for a place to eat out, what kind of options are you looking for? That conversation happens time and time again in our homes, businesses and community, and it’s happening again now, with a twist.
This time, a local investor with restaurant experience is seeking input he’ll use to help decide what kind of eatery he’ll put in a Highway 34 building which for the last several years has housed the China Garden.
A story on this week’s business page explains that Jen and Sum Kwok will soon be closing their doors at China Garden and have sold the building to Jr Roebuck, president of Roebuck Enterprises. This young man is making a name for himself on the local business scene and owns a number of successful properties both here and in Grand Island. He’s a hungry entrepreneur, in other words, which any small town would be lucky to have.
So, back to the “What’s for dinner” conversation, Jr is asking for some candid feedback on what kind of restaurant people most want to see. And, more importantly, what would you support, not just once a year, but frequently?
Is it a barbecue joint? Sports bar? Drive-in? Soup, salad and potato bar or something else entirely? He wants to know what folks are thinking, and why.
Jr is adamant that he wants to bring something new to the community, so therefore won’t be considering a pizza or Mexican food type restaurant, since those are already well covered. All would agree there are some very popular and well-run eateries in Aurora, but the general consensus is there just aren’t enough of them.
Some of the wish list restaurants may not make sense, for a variety of reasons. I’ve been involved with several meetings over the years as a member of the Aurora Development Corporation board, which shed some interesting light on the whole restaurant recruitment process.
I sat down face to face with the Dairy Queen owner in Central City a few years ago, for example, and was told that opening a location in Aurora just isn’t in his cards. Similarly, Applebees and Culvers representatives said they need a bigger population base, and/or Aurora is too close to existing outlets, according to their business model. So, thanks for asking, but no thanks. Others were pursued, but declined for similar reasons.
One of the key factors for any eatery will be hours of operation and personnel. It’s hard to find full- and part-time staff (ask any local business owner/manager), and even harder for businesses that are open nights, weekends, holidays and times when a lot of folks prefer to be getting served, not doing the serving.
Jr Roebuck knows all that, and is still going full steam ahead to invest in a new local restaurant. The News-Register has created a Survey Monkey (See this week’s business page article) listing some eatery options and seeking local input. Please take the time to cast your vote and tell everyone you know to do the same. Here’s your chance to share your thoughts on a hot-button topic when it matters.
Kurt Johnson

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