If market research guides restaurateurs’ decisions to move to a new city, Mansfield residents must be starving.At least eight more eateries are setting up shop in Mansfield, two that opened recently and the rest in various stages of construction or planning, according to city economic development officials.Three other new restaurant arrivals are in lease negotiation, and three existing restaurants are planning major expansions, said Scott Welmaker, director of the economic development office. He said those will be announced later.The culinary variety of the new restaurants suggests an increasingly global palate in Mansfield. A French-Vietnamese bistro and two Mediterranean restaurants are among the fare.“You look around the community, and we’ve had our fair share of restaurant openings,” said Richard Nevins, the city’s assistant economic development director and seven-year staff veteran. “But as far as restaurants opening in such a short amount of time from each other, this is the most I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”It also serves as another sign that the local economy is rebounding from the Great Recession, Welmaker said.“I’m guessing there’s some pent-up demand,” he said. “The last couple of years, there haven’t been a lot of people getting out there and opening new things.”Fuzzy’s Taco Shop opened last week in the new Shoppes di Lucca at 1601 E. Debbie Lane, a mixed-use development of 27,000 square feet of first-floor retail topped with three floors of high-end apartments.Joining Fuzzy’s at the Shoppes soon will be the BFF Bakery and Bistro, which features French Vietnamese fare.Kanary Mediterranean Grill opened recently in the former Estella’s Mexican Restaurant at 1007 E. Broad St.On its heels will be Raz Mediterranean Café, whose owners Lisa and Hamid Raz plan to open in early July at 1071 Country Club Drive and specialize in Persian and Lebanese food.Lisa Raz described the nearly simultaneous arrival of two Mediterranean eateries in Mansfield as “absolutely coincidental.”“I was going to bill ourselves as the first Mediterranean place in Mansfield,” she said. “Wouldn’t you know it …?”Terry O’Hearn, co-owner of Napoli’s Italian Restaurant at 2771 E. Broad St., said he and his partners hope to have their long-planned steakhouse open later this year at 2300 Matlock Road, in the former home of the Nut House Grill and later Flying Pig Bit BBQ.He had projected that the steakhouse – and a new seafood and Greek restaurant planned by the Napoli’s owners – would open in September 2012. He had no comment on the delays. About the other new restaurant, he said, “That’s on hold until this gets up and running.”The city recently approved a site plan for a Rosa’s Café and Tortilla Factory as part of the Broad Street Medical development planned for the northeast corner of Matlock Road and East Broad Street.A Top Secret Barbecue restaurant is planned to replace the Off The Bone barbecue joint at 120 N. Walnut Creek Drive, just off East Broad Street.In-N-Out Burger is building a new restaurant at 1221 N. U.S. 287, just north of Walnut Creek Drive next to Panda Express. Nevins said it’s expected to open by early July.A ninth new restaurant – the much-anticipated Mellow Mushroom pizzeria – is not planned to open until mid-2014, but the old city hall and jail buildings at Main Street and Broad Street downtown have been purchased and recently demolished to make room for it.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann