Randy Gross, a native of Chicago who's lived in Memphis for 5 years, has come to know the CK's Coffee Shop as a staple in the city.
Four months ago, Gross, along with his brother-in-law Jerry Vela, took over five CK's and is hoping to take control of the remaining 6, and one of the first orders of business was replacing the coffee as well as the coffee machines.
But Gross is not out to completely change CK's as much as spiff it up. "I want to rebuild the mindset as a place that's safe and clean with great food and good value."
To that end, Gross has been renovating the restaurants and not just by making "Band-Aid" fixes. He's been washing down sidewalks and mulching the green areas. There's been a lot of painting, and equipment has been replaced. At the recently completed the Perkins location, there are now new booths, new walls, and a new ceiling.
The menu will have familiar items, plus biscuits and gravy, additional waffle toppings, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a bigger selection of salads and sandwiches. Gross says the prices will remain the same, if not lower. "A family of four can eat for $20," he says.
One big change is that CK's will now accept credit cards. No more going to the ATM for cash.
When asked why Gross would want to take on such a monumental task, he points out that he's been in the restaurant business for 20 years. "I love the game. It was time," he says.
In addition, he says that a coffeehouse is recession-proof, and, with CK's, he's not starting out with an unknown entity.
"We want to give them back the restaurant they've known for 30 years," he says. "We want CK's to be around for another 30 years."Updated