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Kelley Bros. toasting 10th year in 09
New year bringing seafood, pizza, Japanese, Chinese & frozen yogurt
The main bar at Kelley Brothers Brewing Co. & Brickyard Oven Restaurant. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Kelley Brothers Brewing Co. & Brickyard Oven Restaurant — arguably Manteca’s marquee independent dining spot — marks its 10th anniversary in 2009.

There were plenty of skeptics when Joe and Shon Kelley unveiled their plans to embark on the $2.1 million makeover of the shell of the El Rey Theatre that had been a blight on the downtown skyline since it burned Aug. 5, 1975 following a screening of “The Towering Inferno.”

The 450-seat Kelley Brothers is also the city’s largest restaurant.

A study conducted by the City of Manteca earlier this year showed that Manteca residents hunger for more restaurants even though there are more than 100 dining options in Manteca.

More than a few readers have expressed disappointment that restaurants have yet to open in the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley that is anchored by Bass Pro Shops. The economic slowdown — though — has made it difficult for many businesses such as restaurants to secure needed capital.

Six restaurants had indicated they were coming to Orchard Valley including several that posted their plans on company website only to delay their expansion plans.

Cool Hand Luke’s Steakhouse & Saloon, Red Robin and Red Lobster have essentially backed off until the economy improves. Mikasa — a Japanese bistro  — the city’s fourth Subway Sandwich and Kimbers are still on track. Kimbers is a Bay Area chain that specializes in beef.

But while the Promenade Shops dining spots are in a holding pattern, several others are moving forward including Chinese Food 4 Less adjacent to Food 4 Less, the city’s fourth McDonald’s being built on the northeast corner of Lathrop Road and Union Road in the Woodbridge Center that has started site work, Orange Treat frozen yogurt going in several doors down from Chipotle’s, Bev’s House of Soul seafood going in across from Kaiser Hospital, and Eddie’s Pizza Cafe going in the former Pizza Plus on Union Road.

Several others opened during the economic downturn this year including the Silver Teapot, Tea-licious and Athens Burgers on downtown. Tea-licious, though, is closing this week. Starbucks — Manteca’s fourth — opened on Union Road. Taqueria Estrella opened their second Manteca location in Raley’s Shopping Center.

City study shows restaurants most likely to locate in Manteca

Outback Steakhouse, Red Robin, Sizzler, Olive Garden, Mimi’s Café, TGI Friday’s and Red Lobster were identified by Economic Research Associates — experts hired by the City of Manteca — using data they compiled to show the seven sit-down restaurants most likely to prosper should they opt to locate in Manteca in the next three years.

Four of the restaurants identified as being best suited for Manteca by the study are also on the top seven list picked by residents in a survey that garnered 300 responses. Those four were Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster and Mimi’s Café. Also in the top six spots on the “want” list but not one of the top six as the best suited for the market were Black Angus as well as Romano’s Marconi Grill. Rounding out the top 10 preferred restaurant list from the survey were Texas Roadhouse, Elephant Bar, Home Town Buffet and the Cheesecake Factory.

Olive Garden was the overwhelming preferred restaurant that those responding to the survey as to what they would like to see in Manteca with 82 responses or 40-plus percent more favorable nods than the next closest favorite — Outhouse Steakhouse.

Those 35 to 54 years of age represented 46 percent of all responses in the survey while Manteca residents 55 and over accounted for 36 of the responses. That is significant as those are the two largest groups that dine out at sit-down restaurants.

Sixty-four percent of the responding households had incomes between $50,000 and $149,999 a year making them a prime target for restaurants.

Thirteen percent of the respondents — 40 — said they dined out three or more times a week while another 117 or 39 percent indicated they ate out once or twice a week.

Forty-five percent of the surveyed households dine out in Manteca, 22 percent in Modesto, 9 percent in Stockton, 7 percent in Tracy, and 10 percent elsewhere.

ERA used five factors to determine the restaurant best suited for Manteca. It includes the restaurant chain’s required population density, whether Manteca has the target customer base and income, whether they are seeking expansion in California, whether there is a preferred co-tenant existing in Manteca, and if Manteca is a reasonable distance from their nearest existing location.

Outhouse Steakhouse and Red Robin were the two highest in the ranking pulling down a 40 out of a possible 50 points. Chevy Fresh Mex, Mimi’s Café, TGI Friday’s, Oliver Garden, and Red Lobster rounded out the top eight. There was no reason listed as to why Chevy’s Fresh Mex was excluded but it could be due with the fact almost a quarter of all of Manteca’s existing 103 restaurants serve Mexican-style food.

A lack of local jobs and therefore daytime population is a challenge to attract full service restaurants due to the scarcity of the lunch trade. It also means commuters with little time for “fine dining” on weekday evenings. Growth and the opening of the lifestyle center along with Big League Dreams are considered big pluses to draw restaurants.

The ERA study also listed the best seven restaurants for Manteca to pursue between 2011 and 2018. They are Chevy’s Fresh Mex, Home Town Buffet, Elephant Bar, Marie Callender’s, Roman’s Marconi Grill, Fresh Choice, and Texas Roadhouse.

City leaders conducted the survey to arm municipal economic development staff with the data needed to help attract restaurants to locate in Manteca.