Golden Corral, the buffet-style family restaurant, has opened its doors at North Thornydale just south of Ina in Marana.
Corporate officials came from as far as North Carolina for last week's ribbon-cutting with the Marana Chamber of Commerce, town employees, Mayor Ed Honea and several members of the town council.
"Wow, a really good place to eat in Marana," Honea said. "I will be here quite often. I think a lot of us will."
"We've been working very hard for this day," said general manager Ryan Swallow. "We anticipate a lot of support from the community, and giving a lot of support to the community."
"We're thrilled to be in Marana," agreed Doug Higdon, regional vice president based in Dallas. The company is headquartered in Raleigh, N.C. It operates 480 restaurants around the country, and has been in business for 32 years. About 120 of those restaurants are company-owned; the Marana location is the first company-owned restaurant in greater Tucson, where there are three other Golden Corrals.
"We want to make sure this is a great restaurant," said district manager Chip Chapman.
The Golden Corral menu features entrees from around the world, as well as buffet favorites such as pot roast, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and grilled-to-order steak. Shrimp is the current evening promotion. There is ethnic food, salad, fruit, pizza, beverages, barbecued meats, noodles, pasta, macaroni and cheese, Mexican food, seafood, an assortment of vegetables, desserts and more, including full breakfast buffets on the weekends.
Swallow said 130 people are working at the restaurant, many of them full-time employees. He is joined on the management team by four others.
Tu Nidito was Golden Corral's charity of choice for the opening. "We support families who have a child with a life-threatening illness," and children who are grieving loss, said director Liz McCusker. A new group at Tu Nidito is intended to help children with a parent diagnosed with cancer. Each year, the program assists 800 children.
"We start each budget year at zero, and ask 'how are we going to do this?'" McCusker said. Without the support of individuals and business, "we wouldn't exist."
6865 N. Thornydale, Marana
10:45 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
10:45 a.m. -10 p.m. Friday
7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.