First Posted: 11/25/2011
LUMBERTON — Joe and Christine Hernandez’s love story began at a restaurant, and now the next chapter of their lives is starting at their own.
The Lumberton husband and wife, who have more than 50 years collectively working at Waffle House — where they met — are now venturing off on their own.
“It’s just always been a dream of ours to open our own restaurant because we’ve been in the restaurant field pretty much all our lives,” Joe said.
That dream will come true on Monday when the Carolina Kitchen, located at 3510 Capuano Road in Lumberton, opens its doors. The restaurant is connected to the Deluxe Inn.
The Southern-style restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and closed on Sundays and Mondays.
“I ran that 24-hour restaurant for 30 years, and trust me, it was very stressful and that’s not going to be in my life here,” said Joe, who has been married to Christine for 30 years. “This is going to be a more serene, family-style restaurant.”
The restaurant will offer a breakfast buffet daily until 11:30 a.m.when it will be replaced with a salad bar. A fruit bar will be available all day. You can also order from a regular menu, which includes Southern staples like burgers, sandwiches, steak or porkchop dinners, and other choices.
Joe called the prices moderate, saying the breakfast buffet is $6.50 and $4.99 for kids and seniors.
Booths are set up in the front of the building where diners can gaze out the large windows as they eat, or sit in the back for more private seating. The tables each have a small white candle in the center, and an aquarium is placed toward the back of the restaurant.
“We’ve got to get bigger fish or a magnifying glass to put in front of it,” Joe said, peering into the water.
In addition to the owners, eight people will work at the restaurant.
“She’s going handle the service side and I’m going to handle the food side,” Joe said. “… We’ll be working bosses.”
Once business picks up, the couple hopes to be open later into the evening
“We want to consider ourselves a family restaurant,” Joe said.
The restaurant also features a 2,000-square-foot banquet hall. To reserve the hall, call the restaurant at (910) 536-1755 or e-mail [email protected]
Joe hopes he and his wife’s history of serving people will translate into a ready-made clientele.
“I’ve been in this market so long I know a lot of people here,” Joe said. “We’ve always given them good service in the past, so I feel they are just going to follow us here.”
n Reach staff writer Amanda Munger at (910) 272-6144 or [email protected]