Ches’s Restaurant reopening in Copperas Cove
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The logo of a moustached chef is now up on a temporary banner at the location that was Ichiban Buffet at 1807 E. Bus. 190 in preparation for the return of a Copperas Cove eatery that had its heyday in the 1980s through mid-1990s.
Ches’s, known for its homecooked, family style menus and all-you-can-eat catfish nights twice a week, is returning to Copperas Cove, thanks to Justin Henderson and family.
Henderson, son of Eddie Henderson and grandson of Jerry Henderson, is no stranger to the restaurant business.
The Henderson family opened the first Ches’s in 1954, in downtown Killeen, at the corner of 2nd Street and Business 190. The family also owned and operated Ches’s locations in Copperas Cove, Gatesville and Belton, as well as Henderson’s Family Restaurant and Papa’s Café in Harker Heights.
Justin’s grandfather, Jerry, opened the Hallmark Restaurant in Killeen in the mid-1980s, and that’s where Justin got his start.
“I was back in the kitchen with Grandpa and Dad, watching them cook,” Henderson said. He then worked his way up, bussing tables, moving on to prep cook and then line cook. He worked in the former Copperas Cove Ches’s and is looking forward to bringing the Hendersons’ family fare back to Copperas Cove. For the past four years, Justin has been at the helm of the Hallmark Restaurant.
The new Ches’s restaurant will be open from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week, and Henderson is aiming for an opening day of Friday, May 12.
“The first 50 customers on opening day will get a Ches’s coffee cup and they will get free coffee with that cup for a year,” Henderson said. He’s already had the retro Ches’s coffee mugs printed with the restaurant logo.
This week, the family has jumped into transforming the buffet-style restaurant into a sit-down establishment with room for up to 250 diners. The buffet’s steam tables have been removed and will be replaced with seating, the interior will be repainted and the kitchen is being reconfigured and already has brand-new walk-ins.
The rear section of the restaurant, ideal for larger parties and gatherings, will be called “Jerry’s Hall” and will be in memory of Justin’s late grandfather, father and Uncle Denver.
The temporary banner on the sign outside will soon be replaced by a neon sign and there will be neon lining the rooftop of the building, Henderson said. It was important to the family they keep the same logo as the former restaurant.
“That’s my Uncle Denver’s face,” Henderson said.
The menu is reminiscent of the Ches’s of yesteryear, with breakfast, lunch and dinner specials daily.
Each evening, there will be all-you-can-eat dinner specials.
“Monday will be spaghetti night, Tuesday will be tacos, Wednesday will be catfish, Thursday will be schnitzel night, Friday will be catfish, Saturday will be finger steaks, and Sunday will be chicken fried steak,” Henderson said.
As far as employees, Henderson already has some of his staff in place, but plans to hire Covites for the remainder of the staff he needs.