Restaurant owner wins award

Published 9:32 pm Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Smithfield resident with a long resume of restaurant experience has received a prestigious award with the help of his family and the community.

Chris Christou, owner of the Cockeyed Rooster Café in Smithfield, received the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Isle of Wight County Department of Economic Development. The award was presented during the Board of Supervisors meeting on May 18.

“It is a real tremendous honor,” Christou said. “I didn’t expect it. It caught me off guard. It’s unbelievable.”

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The award-winning restaurateur has nearly 40 years of industry experience, and the Cockeyed Rooster Café marks his sixth successful restaurant.

He opened the doors on Benns Church Boulevard in July 2015. In 2016, the restaurant was awarded the Daily Press Reader’s Choice Award for Best Breakfast/Brunch South of the James.

“It’s the best breakfast in town,” said Dick Grice, Smithfield district representative for the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors and a regular at the restaurant.

The Cockeyed Rooster serves breakfast, brunch and lunch with a menu of classic items made using fresh, local ingredients.

Eggs benedict, made-from-scratch biscuits and gravy, and a variety of omelettes are offered, along with a slew of burgers and sandwiches for lunch. Daily specials may include homemade meatloaf or chicken and dumplings.

Among the homemade desserts are bread and banana pudding, along with the popular carrot cake.

“It’s my mom’s recipe,” Christou said.

Smithfield resident Chris Brady has been a regular at the restaurant since it opened. His menu favorite is the country ham with eggs and grits.

Brady is neighbors with Grice and the Christou family, all of whom live within 10 minutes of the restaurant. He praised both the food and great service.

“Chris and his family are very good people,” Brady said.

Christou is a hands-on owner that works alongside his staff of about 15 employees, busing tables, washing dishes, delivering meals or working in the kitchen with the cooks.

“We have a great staff, and everyone works together as a team,” he said. “It’s a pleasure working with everyone.”

Christou credited the restaurant’s success to his wife, Roxanne, their 17-year-old son, Michael, and their 15-year-old daughter, Melina. Together, they renovated the building before it opened and continue to work together to keep it successful.

“If it wasn’t for my family and the support, I wouldn’t be successful,” Christou said.

Roxanne and her mother, Carol Brzozowski, came up with the name “Cockeyed Rooster Cafe.” Roxanne said name fit the area and community that’s become like family.

“We’re just so happy to be here,” she said. “It feels like home.”

The restaurant is active in the community by supporting local events, churches and schools through sponsorships and fundraising activities.

“When we first opened up, they welcomed us with open arms around here,” Christou said. “It’s always nice to give back and help out the people in these organizations.”

He said that the restaurant will focus on providing more catering services in the future to serve more community residents.

“I’m committed more than ever to serve the community,” he said.

The Cockeyed Rooster Café is at 1268 Benns Church Boulevard, and is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 357-7667 for more information.