ChaCha Hut open in Arkville
By Pauline Liu
There’s a new restaurant on Route 28 in the hamlet of Arkville. Cha Cha Hut BBQ marked its grand opening last Thursday.
If the name sounds familiar, perhaps that’s because the barbecue restaurant has moved from Roxbury-to-Andes-to-Arkville, all in a matter of three years and has a growing following.
Considering this troubled economy, it seems that the owners, Frank and Cherie Davis, have made a bold move. However, they’ll tell you, that moving to Arkville simply made good economic sense.
“You have to make the right commercial move,” said Cherie. “We felt that if we stayed in the space in Andes, we would not have made it to the summer. We needed a larger space with higher visibility and our landlord there was kind enough to let us out of our lease so we could grow. We had to do it to survive,” she added.
Based on their first week’s sales figures, it seems the move was justified.
“Yesterday (Saturday), we were up 240 percent over the same day a year ago in Andes and we beat last year’s total for the week by over 200 percent,” said Cherie. While Cherie was ringing up customers at the register, Frank was busy preparing food in the kitchen.
“I find Arkville exhausting, but in a good way,” said Frank with a smile. “So far, it seems pretty nice.”
As far as some customers are concerned, the Cha Cha Hut is smokin’ and not just because of the smokehouse out front.
”This is the best barbecue this side of Texas and St. Louis,” said Libby Collins. “We’re both from the west and are devoted carnivores,” said her husband, Michael. The couple have a weekend home in Arkville. They’ve followed the Cha Cha Hut as it changed locations. Collins said she liked the new space.
The dining area has cheery yellow walls, which is Cha Cha Hut’s trademark color. Customers can settle down to eat their meals at long wooden picnic tables, which adds to the restaurant’s rustic flare. The restaurant’s signature assortment of barbecue sauces line each table.
In acknowledgement of their three moves, the Davis’ jokingly call their new location, Cha Cha Hut 3.0, and their dedicated customers are in on the joke. “We’ve known (Cha Cha Hut)1.0 and 2.0, and we became vegetarians during 2.0, but we still come for the sides because they’re delicious,” said Maggie Parent, who has a weekend home in Roxbury with Tim Mukherjee. “They work hard and they have high standards,” he said. “They don’t cut corners and it shows.”
The move to Arkville was not the Davis’ first bold move. The couple hails from Detroit. They moved to the northeast, because of Frank’s job in the record industry. Cherie worked in publishing and banking.
Eventually, the couple started a web design company together in New York City, but as Cherie explained, they were in search of something more.
Made the move
“We decided that we wanted to be in the quiet,” she said. “We found this house (in Roxbury) on the Internet and we just moved,” she added.
Why barbecue? “Why not?” said Cherie with a chuckle, as she turned to take a customer’s order. Frank explained that they wanted a business that stood out.
“I also really like barbecue,” he said. “I eat more than my fair share in life, but it was mostly a decision born out of the fact that there weren’t any other barbecue joints in the area. Besides, it’s one of the things that people really can’t do at home,” he added. The menu includes, ribs, smoked turkey, pulled pork and brisket as well as rib tips, known as “Pig Wings.”
Frank explained how he got started. “Everything I know about barbecue, I learned on the Internet,” he said. “You actually can’t teach barbecue, so you’ve got to just learn it,” he added.
The delicious meals and sides, which have won raves from customers, are all of their own creation. “It takes a lot of trial and error,” said Cherie. Frank takes barbecue seriously, and he is conscientious. “You should always try to make it better,” he said. “All the barbecue that I do, I try to make it better every week and I actually take a lot of customer feed-back,” he added.
Do the Davis’ have a favorite on their menu? “The brisket and the smoked mac ‘n’ cheese are our signature dishes, so that was kind of an easy one,” said Frank.
And finally, for all inquiring minds, we just had to ask the Davis’ how they hit on the name of their business. “Inspired by Dean Martin’s Cha Cha Cha d’amour and some obscure lyrics from a B-52s song,” explained Cherie. “Besides, it’s fun to say,” she added.
The Cha Cha Hut located at 43311 state Highway 28 is open from Thursday- Friday and opens at noon. For more information, call 586-6100 or check out their website at chachahut.com.