Portales residents can eat out around the clock, starting next month.
Starting next Tuesday, McDonald’s will begin staying open 24 hours, owner John Snowberger said. It will be Portales’ only restaurant open 24 hours.
Snowberger said he’s confident his fast-food place will find plenty of customers between midnight and 5 a.m. when other eateries are closed.
“People are up at that time and they’re hungry,” Snowberger said. “There’s a whole culture of 24-hour people.”
Snowberger said only drive-thru service will be offered from midnight to 5 a.m. He said police officers can eat free during those hours and security measures are in place.
Snowberger said the McDonald’s in Portales will be the first of his McDonald’s restaurants to go 24 hours. He said he owns eight McDonald’s restaurants in southeast New Mexico, including franchises in Clovis, Tucumcari, Santa Rosa and Roswell.
“I never forced anybody to do it (stay open 24 hours),” Snowberger said. “Employees from the Portales restaurant volunteered. The minute we decided it was going to go 24 hours, there were two managers and 15 employees who signed up for the (late-night) shift.”
A 24-hour restaurant was high on the priority list of the city’s economic development forums in the past year, more specifically a 24-hour truck stop. The 24-hour truck stop idea was tossed around during a comprehensive planning meeting between city officials and residents in mid-February and it was one of the main objectives during an economic development forum in mid-November.
Mark’s Restaurant and Catering offered 24-hour service in Portales about 10 years ago, owner Mark Vigil said.
Vigil said he ended the 24-hour shift after about a year because of staffing issues.
“The graveyard shift had the highest turnover,” he said. “We had people who started out working the graveyard shift then wanted to move to the day shift. It was stressful for me and my family. I would come in and work for people if they were sick.”
Vigil said there were other concerns during the graveyard shift when alcohol was brought into the mix.
“The restaurant business is stressful enough with a restaurant full of sober people,” Vigil said. “Visualize it with a lot of people who are intoxicated. You would have some situations arise. There were broken beer bottles in the parking lot and they would need to be cleaned up in the morning before the church crowd came in.”
Mark’s Restaurant is located in the Sands shopping plaza in the same block and on the same side of the street as the McDonald’s restaurant. It’s also across the street from the campus of Eastern New Mexico University.
Vigil said there is a market for late-night eaters in Portales and he thinks McDonald’s can fill the need.
“He’s got a bigger pool of employees to work with,” Vigil said. “There’s definitely a lot of opportunity.”