For four decades a Hobbs family has been flipping and selling hamburgers in the Downtown Mini Mall and they credit their success to their customers.
Kenny and Peggy Smith, the founders of Casey’s, and their daughter Paula Manis, the current owner of Casey’s, are celebrating their restaurant’s 40th anniversary. Casey’s is located at 209 W. Broadway.
Kenny said he and Peggy opened their restaurant on Aug. 3, 1977 after spending several years working at Red Crow, a well-known fast food restaurant, back in the day, located at 621 N. Dal Paso. The restaurant the Smiths opened was called Panhandlers.
“When we started here it was called Panhandlers,” Peggy said. “We sold that for a few months to a guy named Ron and he took it and moved it so we couldn’t call (our new restaurant) Panhandlers again. My husband came up with Casey’s.”
Casey’s is what the Smith’s stuck with when Kenny decided to call the restaurant Kenny & Company, “KC.”
“It would make sense if my name was ‘Casey,’” Kenny said. “We just use Casey’s for short.”
Paula said her dad has always worked in the restaurant industry starting his career as a dishwasher. She said he always had a love for the hamburger business.
“He was a dishwasher at the Hobbs airport when it used to have a restaurant out there and then he went over and washed dishes at the Country Club,” she said. “He always loved the smell (of restaurants) and the activity of it.”
Kenny said his customers are the reason for Casey’s 40 years of success and said because of them it has made his job enjoyable.
“I’ve been in the Mexican food business, the cafeteria food business and have been partners with a couple of places but the hamburger business is just a better business,” Kenny said. “You meet down to earth people — every day people. All the people that come in they’re all happy. It’s just a good atmosphere.”
Casey’s success is also due to three key aspects in running its business, Kenny said.
“One is sanitation, one is customer service and the other is quality,” he said. “That’s the key to it. Our hamburgers may be a little bit higher (of a price) than some others but we serve a better hamburger. And how many times do you walk into a restaurant and they don’t know your name. When you come in here three or four days we’ll know you’re name. That’s the atmosphere we enjoy and promote.”
Paula and Kenny both credit each other for getting Casey’s to its 40th anniversary mark.
“I’ve been doing it since 1985 with them,” Paula said. “I’m not a pro. Dad is a pro.”
Kenny said when Paula bought the restaurant from him in the early 2000s, she created the Coca-Cola room and added an extra 40 seats to the restaurant.
“Peggy and I had collected Coca-Cola stuff for a long time,” Kenny said. “We have thousands and thousands of pieces. She came up with the Coke room and she’s actually the one who put (Casey’s) on the map.”
The Coke room at Casey’s is filled with Coca-Cola paraphernalia as Kenny said, which gave Paula an invitation to visit the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta.
“The CEO of Coca-Cola came down here to look at our collection,” Kenny said. “He was impressed with it enough to invite her back to the corporate headquarters.”
A fun, family-friendly environment and exceptional customer service is what Kenny, Peggy and Paula strive to offer at Casey’s.
“If you don’t give them good customer service they’re not going to come back,” Peggy said. “We never turn anybody down who is hungry. God sends different people to us and we all have a responsibility as a community that we take care of the one’s God sends to us. You never know when you’re entertaining an angel or you never know when that’s Christ walking through your door.”
Kenny and Peggy said they have no plans in retiring any time soon.
“I love this business and as long as Paula lets us hang around then I probably will stick around,” Kenny said.
“We’ll work for as long as we can, probably until death due us part,” Peggy added. “I tell Paula, ‘Just have us stuffed and put a chip in us that will have us say, ‘Hi, welcome to Casey’s.’ And put Kenny where you can remote control him to keep him working.’”
Paula said Casey’s will be around as long as Hobbs’ customers want them around.
“Hopefully, Casey’s will be here for another 20 years,” she said. “We hope to be here.”