When an unfamiliar face walks through the doors of Honey Bee Ham & Turkey, owner Chris Hancock greets each new customer with the same expression: “We’ve been here for 20 years; where have you been?”
Hancock bought Honey Bee Ham & Deli in 1998 and oversaw the operations of all six locations across the Greater Houston area. He has since sold each location with the exception of one: the Conroe restaurant where he remains the sole proprietor two decades later.
“I like Conroe because it’s a smaller town with a friendly atmosphere,” Hancock said.
The eatery offers made-from-scratch sandwiches, hamburgers with patties pressed by hand, casseroles, salads and soups in addition to its signature spiral sliced honey glazed ham and Cajun-fried turkeys.
Some of the restaurant’s most popular items include its burgers, Grandma’s King Ranch Chicken Casserole—made from Hancock’s grandmother’s original recipe—and Cajun-fried turkey sandwiches.
“Our Cajun-fried turkeys are injected and rubbed with Cajun seasonings and spices,” Hancock said. “They’re smoked first, then we fry them in peanut oil for six minutes, and then we bake them and pull the meat off the bone by hand for the sandwiches. It is such a long process that not many people want to take the time to do, but that is what makes it so tasty.”
Hancock said he grew up in the restaurant business and has held nearly every role possible since he began helping out in his junior high cafeteria at the age of 12.
The restaurant’s busiest times of the year include Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas when customers typically order whole turkeys and hams to take home for family holiday celebrations.
Although orders can be placed in advance, Hancock said customers can walk in year-round without placing an order and walk out with a full Thanksgiving meal.
“We have fast, friendly service and you get what you pay for—it’s a good product,” he said. “I just try to do a good job every day and make a good meal for every single customer—that’s my goal.”