New owners hope to build on Cheezee's reputation

New owners hope to build on Cheezee's reputation

March 12th, 2013 by Kimberly McMillian in Business Around the Region

Co-owner Steve Abel, of Cheezee's in Dayton, Tenn., laughs with a customer, while cashier Jessica Freels waits on an order in the background. Abel and his nephew Kris Spengler, the new owners of the burger restaurant, kept the well-known name but renovated it with a classic black, red and white design.

Name: Cheezee's

Location: 1410 Maley Hollow Road in Dayton, Tenn., near the intersection of Highways 60 and 27

Phone: 423-285-5646

Owners: Steve Abel, 56, and nephew Kris Spengler, 33

Menu offering: Cheezee's burger (in different varieties, including a triple-sized), chicken sandwiches, fresh-cut and lattice/waffle fries, onion rings and shakes.

Hours of operation: Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and closed on Sundays.

Inspiration behind the name: Abel and Spengler kept the restaurant's popular name, which originated over 20 years ago under its previous ownership, to help with its recognition of having the basic menu and hometown familiarity. "It works," said Abel.

First-year anticipation: Abel said they hope to have a business that would "cater to the tastes of Dayton," once word spreads about the reopening of the burger hotspot.

Price range: $1.49 for drinks, up to $5.49 for burgers

Target market: Family-friendly restaurant, but mostly those who "like a good (fresh, not frozen) hamburger," said Abel.

Challenges: Both Abel and Spengler have a unique challenge of dual ownership in businesses apart from the restaurant. Abel owns a local Laundromat with his wife, Lori. Spengler, who co-owns the mobile Monkey Town Donuts business with his wife, Jennifer, said that the "stationary" business will give him the opportunity to pursue a new adventure and meet new people from his regulars at local festivals and markets that he attends.

Lesson learned: "I've not discovered anything new, but it had reinforced what I did know," Abel said about running a business. Abel said he honed his "burger skills" from the age of 13 to 19 at Tony's Drive-In in the 1970s.

Five-year goal: Spengler said the goal is to "continue a good customer basis with a wholesome way of doing it."

- Compiled by Kimberly McMillian