A Show Low chef is bringing a new restaurant to town. The former Country Kitchen, near the intersection of Highways 260 and 87 in the Payson Village Shopping Center, will soon be converted to China Wok Buffet.
New tenant Kent Chen plans to begin remodeling on the 5,000-square-foot inside, as soon as the town approves his plans. The restaurant could be open as early as April. The centers owner, Hirani Oil Arizona LLC, recently finished remodeling the outside with new paint, stonework and stucco.
Chen runs another China Wok Buffet in Show Low that he opened three years ago.
Asset manager with Hirani Oil, Rosy Sulman, describes the restaurant as having wonderful food, affordable pricing and a family atmosphere.
“He has a huge menu that is supposed to be great food,” Sulman said.
The restaurant will offer sit down dining, with an all-you-can-eat buffet, sushi bar and hibachi grills where the food is cooked in front of you while you wait.
Lunch specials will start around $5, dinner buffet $8.50, and lunch buffet $6.50. Chen said he plans to also offer crab legs and ribs.
Sulman, who is responsible for signing up and screening possible tenants, said she had a lot of interest in the space from other restaurants. Sulman said Hirani picked China Wok because it will fit nicely in the community.
“I hear people all the time say that they do not have a place to bring their kids and we are trying to get more people up here for that,” she said. “This is a place where a family can go to, can sit down and it provides an economical meal.”
Kathi Fair, Chen’s leasing agent with Remax, said she is also excited about the new restaurant, especially since she has eaten at the Show Low location several times.
“I am very excited because I know how wonderful his food is and he treats his clientele like family,” Fair said.
Chen came west at the urging of his aunt and friends who own several restaurants in California. Family members told Chen that it is easier to open a restaurant on the West Coast where there are fewer restaurants. Several of his family members have run restaurants in New York for 20 years.
Chen first opened his own restaurant outside of Las Vegas and then moved to Show Low three years ago. He started planning for a new restaurant six months after opening the Show Low location because business was so good.
“I feel so comfortable working with them (Hirani Oil),” Chen said of the new location.
Nazy Hirani, owner of Hirani Oil Arizona, said he is very excited about China Wok moving into the space.
“We waited so long to get the right tenant,” Hirani said. “He (Chen) was the first to be serious about it. I am glad to see somebody here with enthusiasm who has already had success.”
Although China Wok is moving into Payson Village, there are still several properties empty in the center. Hirani Oil said they are aggressively searching for new tenants, but want to find the right tenants that fit the needs of the town.
“We want to give the town of Payson something to be proud of,” Hirani said.
Sulman and Hirani said there is a misconception that the center charges higher rents than other centers in town and that tenants are leaving.
“Bashas’ is not leaving the center,” Hirani said. “They are here to stay, with their lease running well into 2020 and they say they are happy to be here.”
Sulman said they offer competitive rent rates for tenants.
“We really don’t have high rental rates,” she said.
Hirani Oil rents start around $3.50 a square foot in maintenance fees plus $12 a square foot for rent. Although tenants pay a maintenance fee, Hirani Oil is paying for all of the renovations done to the exterior, Sulman said.