Biz Buzz: Downtown SLO restaurant expanding throughout state

Chino’s Rock & Tacos—which first opened in the Downtown Centre at 892 Marsh St. in San Luis Obispo in 2006 — is adding locations and will offer franchising opportunities throughout California this spring.

President Javier Cadena, 35, of Atascadero said that the restaurant has experienced more than 33 percent profit growth each year since 2007. That led to the opening of a second location on State Street in Santa Barbara last July, a third location in Isla Vista in Santa Barbara County last month, and plans to open a fourth location at 98 Niblick Road in Paso Robles this spring.

The company had 22 employees in early 2009 and plans to employ more than 100 by the end of 2010.

Cadena attributes the restaurant’s high volume to low prices (ranging from $1.79 to $9.99) and use of high-quality ingredients including sustainably farmed fish. The restaurant is able to maintain low prices because it sells a high volume — especially with a popular Tuesday night special at its San Luis Obispo location of $2 beers and $1 tacos that often results in sales of more than 3,000 tacos per evening.

Chino’s is a play on the word “Chicano,” and Cadena is a third-generation Mexican restaurant owner. After attending Cuesta College and before opening Chino’s, Cadena toured the country as a bass player for a punk band, “The Pathetics,” and his love of music inspired the restaurant’s rock ’n’ roll theme.

— Julia Hickey

Nipomo refinery in extended overhaul

The ConocoPhillips refinery on the Nipomo Mesa is conducting an extended maintenance project called a turnaround.

Turnarounds are done every three to five years and involve bringing in some 250 additional workers to supplement the 130 workers normally employed at the plant.

The project is expected to last several weeks. It is against company policy to provide details about maintenance performed at the plant, said Jim Anderson, a manager at the plant.

The ConocoPhillips refinery, known as the Santa Maria Facility, takes crude oil from local sources and does initial refining.

The semirefined product is then piped to another refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area community of Rodeo, where it is made into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel oil.

– David Sneed

Paso wine tour line expands services

Paso Robles’ Wine Line, a hop-on and hop-off wine-touring service, has expanded its services to eastside and downtown wineries, in addition to its westside lineup. With the new service, which started Saturday, the company’s route includes 60 wineries.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer a more complete representation of the Paso Robles wine-tasting experience to our patrons,” owner Jason Westfall said. “We’ve had the request to service all of Paso from the start, but we wanted to perfect our service before we pulled the trigger.”

The Wine Line is similar to a city bus service in that the shuttles travel a set route and stop at each partner winery every 40 minutes. A $50 pass will get a rider to 20 wineries.

The service runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday through Sunday.

— Melanie Cleveland