New Chili’s restaurant in the old IHOP building will open later this year in Evansville

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A worker sweeps the roof of the old IHOP building in Evansville Thursday morning. The location is being completely renovated into a new Chili’s Bar & Grill. This will be Wyoming’s third Chili’s. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo.– Pancakes and eggs have given way to burgers and fajitas as a new Chili’s Bar & Grill takes shape at the former IHOP location in Evansville.

The building at 510 E. Lathrop Road in Evansville is undergoing a complete gut renovation to become the third Chili’s franchise in Wyoming.

Big Horn Associates operates Chili’s in Laramie, Cheyenne and Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and has been looking to enter the Casper market for at least several years, according to co-owner Bruce Shiveley.

“Chili’s is actively opening 27 restaurants a year right now, and they’ve been doing that for a few years,” Shiveley said. “They are active.” There are more than 1,600 Chili’s restaurants in the United States and other countries and territories, according to their corporate website.

Chili’s is a casual dining chain specializing in burgers, ribs and fajitas with a Southwestern twist, according to Shiveley. The menu is also varied and extensive, he said, adding to the restaurant’s popularity. “Chili’s usually has great margaritas and good beer, but it’s family-friendly,” he said.

A FedEx truck drops off supplies at the new Chili’s Bar & Grill in Evansville on Thursday. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

This is the first Chili’s that Shiveley and his business partner have opened in an existing building. Since all furniture, equipment, and layout must be changed to match the chain’s prototype, there’s usually no real value in converting an existing space. However, the location and availability were hard for him to pass up.

“I’ve searched the market for years trying to find the perfect spot, and we think we’ve got it,” he said. “We are delighted to be open.” The building is slightly larger than the prototype in Chile, giving them a bit more space to work in, he said.

Past challenges have included a market downturn in Casper, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been particularly trying for the service sector. However, Shiveley says he is optimistic about Casper’s economic future and the current stability of the market.

Shiveley says that with supply and labor issues still a factor, he’s hesitant to give an exact opening date. He’s aiming for late spring or early summer, but that could be further out depending on several variables.

However, management staff have already been hired and are undergoing training, and they plan to start hiring more staff in the coming weeks.

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