CHICO – I was as happy as everyone else in town was when I found out Black Bear Diner had opened on East Twentieth Street where the former Outback Steakhouse was located.
I walked in Thursday and talked to the very nice employees. I requested to talk to the manager, Noel Ruvalcaba, but decided to come back Friday morning because I had deadlines looming.
So I returned Friday and sat down with Ruvalcaba. He told me Black Bear Diner opened up Tuesday, October 25.
“So far, so good,” he said when I asked him how business was going so far.
Ruvalcaba said the community had been waiting for a Black Bear Diner to open up for a really long time. When the Paradise Black Bear Diner closed down, it was sad for a lot of customers, and Ruvalcaba said customers have traveled from Paradise to dine at the Chico location and some of his employees are from the former Paradise location.
“I think people come here for the customer service and atmosphere,” Ruvalcaba said. “We maintain a high standard. People wanted a Black Bear Diner so badly.”
He said the breakfast signature dish is chicken fried steak. I thought that was kind of weird for a breakfast item, but oh well, if people like it, that’s all that matters. The signature lunch dish is a taco salad and for dinner, it is pot roast or meatloaf.
Ruvalcaba has 113 employees total, most of whom are part-time employees. This number includes servers, bussers, dishwashers and cooks. Some of his employees are Chico State or Butte College students. The dining room seats 190 people.
“People get involved with the community here,” he said. “We’ve had a steady flow of people coming in and it’s getting busier every day.”
The slow time is between 2-4 p.m.
Black Bear Diner also sells a variety of gift shop items, such as teddy bears, keychains, baby clothing and in the future, pajamas and slippers. There are holiday items for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
“Teddy bears, shirts and keychains are our best sellers,” Ruvalcaba said.
He said Outback Steakhouse was demolished and everything in Black Bear Diner is brand new. The owners are from Yuba City and drive up periodically to check on the diner.
“A lot of our employees grew up here and are getting involved with their community,” he said.
I told Ruvalcaba the store is very clean and bright and inviting. I encourage people who live in Chico or the surrounding areas to come in and eat at Black Bear Diner.
The diner mainly takes walk-ins. It is located at 1990 East Twentieth Street, by the Chico Marketplace. The diner is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The phone number is 530-965-5857.
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