When Rose Lai became a self-described “corporate dropout” after leaving her cosmetic marketing job in New York City in the mid-1980s, she said she knew she wanted to own her own business.

“My husband’s friend said, ‘There’s a breakfast place in Roanoke available for sale,’ and I wasn’t really sure,” Lai said. “A year passed, and nothing else came up, but it was a God thing. I was supposed to have it.”

Lai said she had a real hobby for cooking and reading recipes but did not have any restaurant experience. She had to learn on the job.

Lai took over the cafe about 29 years ago, though it had been open for far longer, she said. Lai kept the name, the staff, the food and the Western decor, though the Roanoke location has changed.

The space now offers a little more room, Lai said.

“Lunch used to be our busiest time, five days a week, but other [fast-food chains] started to pop up,” she said. “Now breakfast has really become big for us. We’re more of an actual cafe now.”

Dove Creek also used to offer dinner but had to reduce the serving time due to short staffing.

“I wouldn’t bring it back though,” Lai said. “I’m happy with what we have, and there are a lot less issues.”

Lai said the cafe’s Southern vibe translates to the menu too, which offers what Lai calls Texas-style comfort food. Items include hand-battered chicken-fried steak with homemade gravy, country meatloaf with tomato sauce, fried okra and Western omelets.

“We’ve been around forever, so everyone has been to Dove Creek at least once,” Lai said. “It [offers] a country [and] Western feel with a friendly atmosphere, and most importantly, you get a good value.”

Dove Creek Cafe, 204 S. US 377, Roanoke. 817-491-4973. www.dovecreekcafe.com Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. daily

See this story and more in our May e-edition of Community Impact Newspaper.