After a year of planning, Cassandra Johnson saw her childhood dream of owning a fine dining establishment come true Thursday when La Rouge Jazz Supper Club opened in the 440 Plaza Mall in Killeen.

City officials were treated to a VIP event Tuesday to introduce the restaurant and welcome Melvin Arps Jr., Killeen’s first African-American postmaster.

“This is something that is long overdue, and Killeen deserves a club like this one,” Arps said.

La Rouge is an escape into the past, to an era where diners were serenaded by live jazz music and dinner was an all-night affair. At La Rouge, jazz musicians entertain as guests dine.

“I want people to see that we can offer things like this right here so they don’t have to leave the area,” said Johnson, a longtime Killeen resident and owner of Cassandra’s Soulfood and Seafood restaurant.

Shiny chrome tables and custom-made red booths fill the dining room, which can seat about 160 guests. Teardrop crystal chandeliers hang over a bar lined with tiles that look like piano keys.

“Every detail matters,” said Monica Smith, ambassador of guest services and Johnson’s friend. Both women are from Shreveport, La., and have worked in the food industry for years.

Local interior designer Tricia Stanford collaborated with designer Megan Gross during the restaurant’s five-month renovation.

“I wanted to do something that Central Texas could be proud of and Cassandra let me do it,” said Stanford, who credits local contractor Joel Guzman for bringing the design to fruition.

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