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Businessman serves up new venture





President and CEO Eric Estes is "extremely excited" to open a Qdoba Mexican Grill in Hays.

Estes Enterprises Inc., Pratt, already has a Qdoba restaurant open in Hutchinson, and has development plans for restaurants in Salina and Wichita. Estes hopes to have the Hays location open by April; it will employ 45 full- and part-time employees.

The company, which already owns the Long John Silver's at 3380 Vine, will partner with S&H Enterprises LLC, the landlord for Mattress America and Discount Liquor, 3310 Vine. Estes said that building, south of Long John Silver's, will be torn down, and replaced by Qdoba Mexican Grill Retail Plaza.

The plaza, which will have three additional tenants, will share a parking lot with Long John Silver's. Estes hopes to name the three other businesses to be located in the plaza in approximately one month.

Estes' father, Michael, is a 1971 graduate of Fort Hays State University who ran track under legendary coach Alex Francis; he is a vice-president of Estes Enterprises. Michael Estes' older brother, Bud, also is an FHSU graduate and a representative in the state Legislature.

"We always have really liked Hays," Eric Estes said. "We always just thought Fort Hays State University would do real well with a mid-scale, fast-casual concept like Qdoba."

The restaurant -- which also will provide catering -- specializes in mission burritos, grilled quesadillas and signature flavor entrees, which all can be customized by the customer.