Thanksgiving doesn't need to be just one day a year. There are many reasons to be thankful this week, especially Wednesday when Cafe Rio Mexican Grill opens and offers free meals to the first 300 in line.

This is the first Bakersfield location for the restaurant chain, which operates 110 locations nationwide, 18 in California. It is also the first business to open in the much-anticipated Stockdale Center project at Stockdale Highway and Coffee Road.

A "burrito ribbon" cutting will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning at the restaurant, 200 Coffee Road. The first 300 guests in line at that time will receive a free entree.

Along with the ribbon cutting, the restaurant will present a $2,500 check to Community Action Partnership of Kern, which was selected as its local community partner for the grand opening.

The Mexican restaurant is part of a planned 7,000-square-foot food court, which will also include a Blaze Pizza and Jersey Mike's. Work continues on the rest of the 280,000-square-foot mixed-use development at the northeast corner of Coffee Road and Stockdale Highway. The center will feature a four-story, 120-room Hyatt Place hotel and a 6,000-square-foot Sully's store with Chevron gas pumps.

Cafe Rio prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients in its made-to-order meals with a strict “no freezer and no microwaves” policy in each restaurant.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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