LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Any nervousness from Wade Jabbour Jr. quickly faded as the crowds continued through the day in his newly opened restaurant, Lone Star Charlie's.
Lone Star Charlie's officially opened to the public Monday morning in its new location on Highway 69 south and the loop. The restaurant occupies the space that once belonged to Denny's.
The country-style eatery returned to Lufkin after being gone for five years. The old location was demolished to make room for the loop expansion project on the north side of Lufkin.
"You know I did the pipeline thing for a while, but I wanted to be back by my family," Jabbour Jr. said. "I called my dad and said, 'Hey, let's go back to doing what we know how to do and bring it back.'"
The restaurant opened up over the weekend for a soft opening and ever since, a lot of familiar faces have been coming in.
"I've been walking around all day giving hugs and kisses," Jabbour Jr. said. "I was really worried about the outcome but I tell you what I have been overwhelmed but overwhelmed in a good way."
Another change would be a change in city rules that does not allow for smoking in the building. Many in the community would tell you about the old building and the smell of smoke that always lingered. Now, a city ordinance does not allow for smoking within 25 feet of the entrance of a building.
"The only thing that has worried me is the smoking," Jabbour Jr. said. "I was worried that we might lose some of those customers, but all I can tell them is we are the same, and if you want, you are more than welcome to go outside, and we can bring you coffee to drink while you smoke."
The crowds that were in the restaurant on Monday did not care about the minor changes.
Mary Winkleman was driven to the restaurant by her friend. The 98-year-old has been a long time customer and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
"I keep coming back for old friends," Winkleman said. "It's a family restaurant, and you meet old friends and everybody goes here."
Tommy Andrews loves the ham on the breakfast menu. In his mind, he has been far overdue on having his favorite dish.
"I love it here, " Andrews said. "I was tickled when they said the were opening back up."
In the back corner of the restaurant, Cliff Snyder sat all morning drinking his coffee and talking with old friends he hadn't seen for a while.
"It's great," Snyder said. "It's the same as it was out there at the old location. It just like we used to do in the old days. I even understand they may go back to 24 hours."
Jabbour Jr's father, the original owner, was on hand Monday with his wife, showing the business is a family affair. Wade Jabbour Sr. was surprised by the response.
"It seems so nice for all of them to come back and visit with us and eat with us," Jabbour Sr. said. "We appreciate everyone of them."
Jabbour Jr. is hopeful the crowds continue to roll in. He promises that while some things may change and look different, he will always work to make one thing the same.
"It's still the old Charlie's," Jabbour Jr. said. "Nothing has changed with that. We try to have a clean place, good food and great service. I think if we get all three of those, I think we can draw as many people as we like."