In the wake of Hurricane Ike in 2008, Luis and Kathie Jaimes opened Chachi’s Mexican Restaurant in Kingwood—a dream Luis spent decades working toward.
Opening a business is difficult, Kathie said, but opening Chachi’s as a Category 4 hurricane struck the area complicated the process. The restaurant’s license to sell alcohol was delayed due to the storm, and many residents dealt with property damage, she said.
“The day that we opened, [Luis] actually decided that day, ‘We’re going to open tonight,’ and he literally just pulled the little ‘Open’ sign on and within a half hour the place was full,” Kathie said.
However, the Jaimeses used the opportunity to connect with the surrounding community.
“The nice thing was when the hurricane happened, we still had power,” Kathie said. “We had a gigantic ice maker that we didn’t really have a use for, so we were just letting people come in with their coolers. They were really thankful because you couldn’t get ice anywhere.”
Chachi’s Mexican Restaurant— which gets its name from Luis’ resemblance to Scott Baio’s character from the show “Happy Days”— has been serving fresh-made meals to the Kingwood community for the better part of 10 years, Kathie said.
Although the Chachi’s menu has traditional Mexican favorites, such as enchiladas, tacos and queso, it also features dishes that include quail, seafood and ribs.
Kathie said some of the restaurant’s loyal customers have been dining with Luis since he worked at Ninfa’s in Kingwood more than 25 years ago. It was at Ninfa’s where Kathie coined the nickname of Chachi for Luis about two weeks after they met. The two were co-workers at the time.
Some customers, she said, have watched the couple’s business and family grow since Luis’ days as a bus boy at Ninfa’s.
“When we had our daughter, he used to bring pictures into work every day, and everybody was wanting to see,” Kathie said. “She’s like ‘There are so many people that know me but I don’t know them.’ And I’m like, ‘It’s because they’ve seen you grow up.’ So they feel close to her just because she’s his daughter.”