20171129-bc-rio-1

People lined up at Cafe Rio last month for its grand opening. The chain is the first business to open in a new development at Coffee Road near Stockdale Highway.

Hungry customers lined up Wednesday for the grand opening of Cafe Rio Mexican Grill, which was handing out  free meals to the first 300 people to reach the front counter.

The restaurant chain, which operates 110 locations nationwide, including 18 in California, is new to Bakersfield. But Cafe Rio's opening represented another first: It is also the first business to open in the much-anticipated Stockdale Center project at Stockdale Highway and Coffee Road, across Coffee from the Town & Country Shopping Center.

Wednesday's festivities at the restaurant, at 200 Coffee Road, began with a "burrito ribbon" cutting at 10:30 a.m.  Restaurant management also presented a $2,500 check to Community Action Partnership of Kern, which was selected as its local community partner for the grand opening.

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