The long anticipated Cheddar’s Casual Café opened the doors for its first customers at 3 p.m. on Monday. At prime dinner hour the lobby was packed with guests waiting to be seated and the tables were full of dining customers.
Construction began on the 8,066-square-foot restaurant along U.S. Route 13 in October and their opening date was right on schedule with the original projection.
This is the first Delaware location for the Texas-based restaurant chain, which was started in 1979 in Arlington. Since then, it has grown to more than 80 restaurants in the United States with a strategy of locating restaurants near or within high-traffic shopping centers, according to industry insiders.
Cheddar's specializes in handmade, high quality food made from scratch, and so far patrons seem to be enjoying it.
“Our food has been good so far. We had the triple treat for an appetizer,” said customer John Benjamin. “I would recommend the chicken tenders or the nachos. I think it’s a good addition to Dover. They have a lot of different flavors.”
Patrons also took note of Cheddar’s décor, which features a fish tank built into one wall, granite counters at the bar and butcher block tabletops.
“This isn’t a typical restaurant,” said Catrina Sawyer of Felton. “This has more ambiance. It’s just beautiful.”
Cheddar's agreed to give the restaurant a brick facade, given its proximity to Camden's historic district. Focal points for the building include natural gas lit lamps, dormers on the roof and copper awnings said Adam Smith, director of development for Foremark, the consulting firm that navigated site investigation, real estate planning and permitting for the restaurant.
Area residents have been looking forward to Cheddar’s arrival since the location was announced.
“Everyone has been looking forward to this,” said customer Jessica Voutard. “It’s something new for the area.”
According to Deborah Salinas, the general manager for the new Camden restuarant, the company tracks how many guests they’ve served by number of entrees. On Monday night they served 673 entrees.
“I’ve been to other openings and this one was very smooth,” Salinas said. “It was really good. Getting to see the reactions of our customers, to see someone eat something as simple as a chicken tender and fall in love with this place made me fall in love with it all over again.,”
In the five days before the restaurant’s opening the wait staff would take turns dividing up into teams. One team would act as servers and the other would act as customers.
Page 2 of 2 - “That way everyone gets to try the food and everyone gets to practice,” Salinas said.
The kitchen staff was trained to prepare the dishes for Cheddar’s but on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the restaurant’s cooks went and will continue to go through their timed training, which is why the restaurant hasn’t been opening its doors until 3 p.m.
As of Thursday Cheddar’s will open at 10:30 a.m. and stay open until 11 p.m. on weekdays. On Fridays and Saturdays they’ll be open from 10:30 until midnight.