When it comes to running Chinese restaurants in cities with growing populations, JJ and Queenie Xiao have been around the block.
The husband-and-wife owners of newly opened Kyle restaurant East Buffet owned a Chinese dining establishment in Pearsall which JJ said is surging because of the shale gas boom in South Texas.
Business at China Buffet, their previous restaurant, has been doing well since they sold the business to Hong Lin, a longtime friend of theirs and a former cook at the restaurant, JJ said.
But the success they have experienced with their new restaurant in downtown Kyle, which opened in September, has reaffirmed their decision to move here with their family in September 2013, JJ said.
"I know that Kyle is going up," he said. "More people are coming, and more businesses are coming."
The restaurant's Center Street property comprises 6,000 square feet and has a capacity of 140 people, JJ said.
He said the building took about a year to remodel. He said it cost about $200,000 for the materials used to complete the renovations.
The improvements included adding sheetrock, replacing the electrical infrastructure and installing a new air conditioning system, JJ said.
Although the property required a lot of work, it was the most affordable option because other sites in the northern commercial hub of the city, where H-E-B stands and a Wal-Mart will open next year, charged high rates for rent, he said.
East Buffet provides standard Chinese fare. General Tso's chicken, beef broccoli and coconut shrimp are among customers' favorites, JJ said. The restaurant also serves eight varieties of ice cream. Other desserts include fruit, Jell-O and cookies.
On weekends special items, such as steak and spare ribs, frog legs and salmon, are served. A hibachi, a Japanese cooking device, is used to grill meats, JJ said.
Customers can watch sports on the restaurant's four TV screens. The restaurant has an enclosed area for private parties that can seat as many as 60 people, JJ said.
East Buffet does not serve alcohol, but JJ said he might consider applying for a permit in the future.
JJ has spent the past nine years working in the restaurant industry in the United States, he said, adding he previously worked in New York City's Chinatown. Raising a family, however, made finding a community with which his restaurant could grow that much more important. JJ said he plans to be in Kyle for the long haul.
"I want to stay here," he said. "I don't want to move."