BENTON - It was a sad day for many when the “Closed for Business” sign appeared on the door of the old Main Street Java Restaurant on Benton’s court square.
Locals had grown accustomed to having the smell of gourmet coffee greet them as they entered the café’, the sights of delicious baked goods behind the counter and the refreshing menu options offered daily.
At the time of its closing, restaurant owner Rick Nieber said he knew that God had other plans for him and that eventually another door would be opened.
Well, it appears that time has come and in just a few weeks, Nieber’s restaurant doors will once again be open, albeit in a slightly different setting.
After a quick round of negotiations at a chance encounter, Nieber and Dave Puckett, owner of Puckett’s Jewelry in Benton, struck a deal to add a café’ and coffee shop to the newly remodeled building that was once the Main Street location for CFSB.
For the past few months, the Puckett family has been remodeling the building after purchasing it from the bank, with intentions of expanding their current jewelry store, also located on the square.
The new building will not only house Puckett's and Cafe' Chas, but Kennedy's Fan Shop, as well.
Nieber said the new café’ will be much smaller, approximately 300 square foot, but will serve many customer favorites carried over from Main Street Java, including salads, paninis, sandwiches and wraps. Nieber said while the new eatery will feature some old favorites, it will carry a new name, one that is close to his heart. The new ‘Café’ Chas’ is named after Nieber’s two year-old son.
Due to space limitations, he says there will only be room for one or so tables in the café’ itself, but adds there will be several tables more located in the commons area of the building.
The Puckett’s also plan to have outdoor seating which will accommodate 15 to 20 persons on the newly created deck area, weather permitting.
Nieber said he plans to bring back old favorites such as southern pecan coffee and cappuccino to the cafe', among other favorites including cinnamon rolls, muffins, bagels and pastries.
Of how this all came about, he says it’s certainly all been in God’s hands.
“I have been praying a lot,” he said. “As you know the old building will be gone soon.” Nieber said he and his wife had been discussing the possibility of working out a deal with the Pucketts when he took a chance and stopped by the jewelry store one day.
“It just so happened Dave was there and he came out and shook my hand,” Nieber recalls. “He said he was thinking of opening a coffee shop and asked me if I knew anyone who might be interested ...and I said, ‘are you serious?’”
The idea snowballed from there.
From a business plan to structural design, plans moved forward very quickly. Having made it past a few plumbing issues, Nieber said he is hopeful the café’ will be opening on the 15th along with the building’s opening date.
Just in time for Christmas, he says the café’ will be offering gift certificates in time for the holidays in addition to being open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Of the excitement being generated by the news of the café’s opening, Nieber says he has been humbled.
“It’s been so exciting to hear people talking about it and for them to stop me on the street – asking me if I will be offering this coffee or that entrée, it just makes me feel so good. I just want to thank the community for their support of me and my family.”
As to what the future holds, Nieber said he’s taking things one day at a time. “Who knows,” he said, “this might be a springboard for me to open another restaurant someday. I’ll just keep praying about it.”