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Texas Roadhouse plans Medford restaurant

A major player in the steakhouse industry is moving into Medford.

Texas Roadhouse, voted the No. 1 steakhouse in a consumer survey released in September by Nation's Restaurant News, a restaurant trade publication, has submitted plans to build a new restaurant in the Delta Center in northeast Medford.

The Louisville, Ky., chain has more than 385 restaurants in 47 states, but this will be the first in Oregon.

A proposed 8,468-square-foot building between the Starbucks/AT&T building and Sportsman's Warehouse will be considered by the Site Plan and Architectural Commission on Friday.

"Usually when a national company goes into Oregon, it comes in from Portland down and not Medford up," said Chuck Martinez, a partner in Crater Lake Venture with Cris Galpin and Sam Gressett, which owns Delta Center. "We felt fortunate to reverse that trend."

The vacant area surrounded by parking originally was approved for a 17,000-square-foot building with multiple occupants.

However, Texas Roadhouse was willing to pay a premium price for a stand-alone location.

"Most restaurants have a theme that is not practical with an adjoining building," Martinez said.

He said the chain checked out the area thoroughly before starting negotiations a year ago.

"They had a number of choices and plenty of development opportunities around the city," he said. "In general, we're seeing more activity in Southern Oregon than we have seen for a while and we're encouraged."

Texas Roadhouse is expected to build a second restaurant in Southern Oregon, most likely in Grants Pass, and indicated it is shopping the Eugene market as well.

The company was to report its third-quarter earnings on Monday, but delayed the announcement because of Hurricane Sandy. Phone calls to a Roadhouse spokesman were not returned.

The chain earned $20.3 million on revenue of $320.3 million in the first half of 2012, up from a $16.1 million profit on revenue of $279.6 million in 2011.

The 2012 Consumer Picks survey results are based on six months of survey from 130,000 restaurant customers, rating 171 restaurant chains. The results cited the chain's food quality, value and menu variety.

Tom Fischer, owner of Coldwell Banker Commercial NW in Medford, said retail and restaurants have been making a stronger comeback than other commercial properties following the deepest recession in 80 years.

"It's been consistent throughout the nation," Fischer said. "Retail, including restaurants, is doing better than other commercial sectors. Most of it is because people are thinking things are better. It's not necessarily because they have a whole lot more money, but they feel more comfortable spending more money."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.