By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
The colored peppers plastered on the walls of the new Chili’s represent the many ACU students who eat at the restaurant.
A vivid pink and green pepper advertises social club Ko Jo Kai, while a darker pepper reads “Galaxy.”
In fact, peppers colored by students represent almost every ACU social club and many students’ names.
Business has settled to a steady rate since the new Chili’s opened in May northeast of campus near Wal-Mart, said Chris Volirakis, manager of the restaurant.
“We definitely get a good college crowd coming in,” he said
Although some customers come from ACU and Hardin-Simmons University, many customers are older, Volirakis said. However, the new restaurant employs mainly students from the nearby universities.
“Almost the whole front of the house staff is either Hardin-Simmons or ACU,” Volirakis said.
Employees who aren’t college students are able to cover shifts during times college students are in class, he said.
Camen Thomasson, Chili’s hostess, works mostly lunch shifts and seats few college students, she said.
Thompson saidbusiness has decreased a bit since school began, but night and weekend business has increased.
The restaurant’s location requires advance planning for university events, Volirakis said, and after an unexpected crowd that filled the restaurant after an HSU event, Chili’s now requests schedules from the universities to prepare for larger crowds.
Sunday provides a unique challenge because customers arrive at the same time, Volirakis said.
“When we seat the whole restaurant all at once, all the orders go in at once,” he said. This puts extra pressure on wait and kitchen staff, he said.
Volirakis said he is pleased with business overall.
Visitors to Abilene-whether parents of university students, tourists or businessmen-will eat at Chili’s because they’re looking to eat at a restaurant they know, Volirakis said.
The new restaurant also has an advantage other than its location: technology.
“It’s a brand new restaurant with the latest technology, better layout, everything like that,” Volirakis said.
This means the noise level is lower, and the space is larger and better utilized, he said.
“We do our best to keep this place looking brand new,” Volirakis said. “We’re definitely the number one Chili’s in town.”