Knight’s Knook is one of the latest of the new wave of restaurants popping up in Harker Heights.
One look at the cafe, which resides in a location that was formerly a gardening/nursery supply dealer, makes it obvious that there is something different about it.
But a closer examination shows Knight’s Knook is based on a business plan that has worked for generations.
The restaurant is across Knight’s Way from Harker Heights High School, and owner Mechelle Davies hopes to build a business that is both a safe hangout for teenagers and a spot for family dining.
“There really wasn’t anything for the kids around here,” said Davies. “Before we opened, they were walking down to the convenience stores. That can’t lead to anything but trouble.”
Currently, the Knook gets a lunch rush every day around 11:30, when students from the high school cross the street to munch on burgers, fries or, if they are a bit adventurous, barbecue pasta.
Davies has a culinary degree from the University of Hawaii, and her menu reflects it. While there are plenty of traditional comfort foods, the menu offers an eclectic array of choices for the more refined palate.
“We’ve gone through some growing pains,” said Davies. “Some of the items that were originally on the menu aren’t here anymore. I was throwing away salads every day. I originally put on salads because I thought the teachers would like them. It didn’t work out.
“The kids want fries,” she added.
Davies is considering opening for breakfast. The restaurant is currently open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“With all of the soldiers and construction workers in the area, that could work,” she said.
Davies has made it extremely easy for students to get in and out in time for their next classes. Students can text their order to a house phone, and it is usually ready by the time they get there.
While this is Davies’ first restaurant, it’s not her first rodeo. There might not be anybody in Killeen better trained to feed a mass of teenagers on the fly. Before she owned a restaurant, Davies was a culinary contractor in Kuwait and Iraq.
“I can’t say it is my first endeavor in food services because I just left Iraq and Kuwait, where I used to train the cooks,” she said. “I was a contractor over there. I trained 250 English speaking Indians. I trained them in the whole nine yards of food prep. I had to prepare food for 5,000 people at each meal. Not every day. That was 5,000 people breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“I know they only have 40 minutes,” she said of the students. “You have to get them in and get them out, just like the soldiers. It’s all about moving quickly and getting the food out to the customers.”
Davies is doing her best to tap into Harker Heights High’s school spirit. She and her staff all wear the school’s colors to work every day. She is planning to run an ad in the school paper with a coupon for free fries with the purchase of any sandwich. And she is open to letting the school use her facility for functions.
“I would love to help with boosters and fundraisers,” she said. “I would be interested in pep rallies. It would be a great place to do a car wash.”
Although Davies works hard to cater to her teenage clientele, she knows a client base that is gone by 4 p.m. every day and disappears for three months during the summer will not be enough to keep things going.
“I want this to be a family restaurant,” she said. “I want it to be a place people think of when they are on their way home from work and need to pick up dinner for the family.”
Contact Mason Lerner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7567