CHICO – I was as happy as the rest of the town when I found out that Black Bear Diner was opening on East Twentieth Street where the former Outback Steakhouse was located.
I walked in on a Thursday and talked to very nice staff. I asked to speak to manager Noel Ruvalcaba, but I decided to come back on Friday morning as my deadline loomed.
So I came back on Friday and sat down with Luvalkaba. He told me that Black Bear Diner opened on Tuesday, October 25th.
“So far, so good,” he said when I asked him how the business was doing so far.
Ruvalcaba said the community has been waiting a long time for the Black Bear Diner to open. Many customers were saddened when Paradise Black Bear Diner closed, and Ruvalcaba said customers had moved to Chico from Paradise, and some of his staff were from the former Paradise restaurant.
“I think people come here for the customer service and the atmosphere,” Ruvalcaba said. “We keep our standards high. People really want Black Bear.”
He said his signature dish for breakfast was fried chicken. I think it’s a bit odd for breakfast, but oh well, if people like it, that’s all that matters. The signature lunch is a taco salad, and dinner is a stew or meatloaf.
Ruvalcaba has a total of 113 employees, most of them part-time. This number includes servers, bussers, dishwashers and cooks. Some of his employees are students at Chico State University or Butte College. The restaurant can accommodate 190 people.
“People are integrated into the community here,” he said. “We have a steady stream of people coming in and it’s getting busier every day.”
Slow time is between 2-4pm
Black Bear Diner also sells a variety of gift shop merchandise such as teddy bears, key chains, baby clothes, and future pajamas and slippers. There are holiday items for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
“Teddy bears, shirts and key chains are our best sellers,” says Ruvalcaba.
He said the Outback Steakhouse was demolished and everything in Black Bear Diner was brand new. The owner is from Yuba city and drives regularly to check on the restaurant.
“Many of our employees grew up here and are participating in their communities,” he said.
I told Ruvalcaba that the store was very clean, bright and inviting. I encourage people who live in Chico or the surrounding area to eat at Black Bear Restaurant.
The cafeteria is mainly reserved. It’s located at 1990 East Twentieth Street, in Chico Market. The restaurant is open Sunday-Wednesday 6am-9pm and Thursday, Friday and Saturday 6am-10pm. The phone number is 530-965-5857.