Robert Barron, Staff Writer
October 20, 2010
ENID — Enid’s largest-capacity restaurant will open today.
Chen Garden, featuring stir fry, hibachi and sushi, opens in the former Hancock Fabrics location in Oakwood Mall.
And, retail specialists who have been working with Enid hope the restaurant is a precursor of more “things to come” in the area of retail and restaurants.
Rickey Hayes, of Retail Attractions consulting firm employed by the city of Enid to increase retail business, said the restaurant is an overall win for the city.
“It complements the restaurants already here. It is larger than normal and it goes back to what we’ve always said about creating more synergy in one location,” Hayes said.
The restaurant seats 400 people with a banquet room accommodating another 100 people. It has a total square footage of 13,100 feet. Chen Garden is a national chain of 13 Chinese restaurants. A new restaurant will open soon in Muskogee, said Oakwood Mall Marketing Manager Jennifer Pruitt.
The restaurant has an artist who can create figures out of corn starch by request on party trays or at the bar. They are available for purchase.
Among the features is a hibachi stir-fry grill. Customers may pick out the meat, vegetables, pasta and sauces they want and it will be cooked right before their eyes.
In the entryway is a 2,000-gallon koi pond with a waterfall customers walk under as they enter the restaurant. All decorations are unique, handcrafted pieces imported from China, Pruitt said.
Feng Chen, manager of the restaurant, is the son of owner Lui Chen and the nephew Wei Dong, also an owner. The Enid restaurant is the largest of the 13 restaurants. Chen said they chose Enid because the manager of the J. Herzog & Sons mall in Fort Dodge, Iowa, told them Oakwood Mall had more room.
“We hope to see it increase traffic, not just for the mall but for Enid in general. It is another option for dining out,” Pruitt said.
Chen Garden opens at 11 a.m. today. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Restaurateurs are capitalizing on the economy with lower construction costs, engineering costs and cheaper money. Those with capital can take advantage of the economic climate, Hayes said.
“This is a specialty restaurant, not just any Chinese buffet,” he said. “It can handle an event of large size in the mall, pulling mall tenants and that’s good for Oakwood Mall and good for Enid. It’s a precursor of things to come.”