Where Conoco Kisses Cuisine

My mother lived with us for 18 years and sadly passed away over Easter weekend this year.  She and I made a habit of going out to dinner on Friday evenings.  Until she was diagnosed with cancer, one of the places we frequented was the Chef Point Cafe.  The setting for this restaurant is truly unique as you will quickly surmise once we pan out from this picture

   to this one.  

Yes, that’s right, Chef Point Cafe resides inside a Conoco gas station.  And if you require further proof, here is what greets you as you enter this establishment.   Due to my mother’s declining health, we had not been to Chef Point Cafe for quite some time.  When we first started going there, to call it modest is being magnanimous.  A few small table tops, a tiny kitchen and one harried waitress shared a room the size of your average small town barbershop.

From the very beginning however, there were people lining up for those few tables.  The reason was simple.  The ambience might have reeked of dingy diner but the food screamed fine dining.   It turns out that the chef, Franson Nwaeze, is a self-taught culinary genius.  You can find hamburgers and pizzas but you can order prime rib, smoked salmon or rack of lamb as well.  Everything is cooked to perfection!

So perhaps you can imagine my surprise when I stopped by the other evening after an extended hiatus to order a little take-out to find there had been extensive, and I do mean extensive, renovations. The restaurant now seats 160 guests, has a large parking lot in the rear (parking used to be a huge challenge) and has a greatly expanded kitchen and food preparation area.  Check out the new well-stocked bar that encompasses the amount of space formerly taken up by the entire eatery.

Neither time nor space permit the recounting here of how this truly unique restaurant came to be.  You can read all about it, however, on the About Us page of their website.  You will likely be amazed at the publicity this once humble diner has garnered in the national press.  Guy Fieri featured the spot on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and they were spotlighted in Paula Deen‘s magazine.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling the globe are those serendipitous moments when you stumble across the completely unexpected.  As the Chef Point Cafe proves, it can even happen in your own backyard.

Chef Franson Nwaeze and Terry Denton