Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

April 8, 2013

BUSINESS: All You Can MEET

'Hong Kong Super Buffet' is apparently the Kung Fu of Jacksonville meeting places

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — There seems  to only be one particular place in Jacksonville where patrons can eat chicken or pork or have something prepared on the Mongolian grill while taking a defensive driving course, attending Republican, Libertarian or Texas separatist political meetings — or even discussing the possible reformation of marijuana law.

The Hong Kong Super Buffet, famous for its salad bar, crawfish, ice cream and fresh fruit, seems to be a hot spot for local  groups such as the Cherokee County Republican Club — which on Tuesday night hosted Cherokee County District Attorney Rachel Patton.

The restaurant also plays regular monthly host to the Cherokee County Libertarian Party, the United Daughters of the Confederacy,  the Cherokee County Texas Nationalists, and even Jacksonville NORML, which supports "marijuana law reform on a local level."

One huge reason why the Republican group keeps keep coming there is the continuity, explained Josie Schoolcraft, its vice president.

Schoolcraft said the  Republican group has tried a bunch of different Cherokee County restaurants for one reason or another, but through either circumstance or inconvenience always themselves back at the Hong Kong Buffet.

“Once you start moving around, you lose participation,” Schoolcraft said. “When you change locations, people simply forget where to go. No one ever reads their newspaper and emails, and we don't want to confuse them by continually changing.”

The manager of the Hong Kong buffet restaurant  was not immediately available this week  discuss group rental policy. But according to the website Bundle — which touts “unbiased, data driven ratings” — the restaurant is rates 72 out of 100, based on customer spending behavior.

According to that site, the buffet restaurant  is ranked No. 8 for restaurants around Jacksonville.

According to the groups, the restaurant charges no rental fee to hold the meetings and offers discounted rates to elderly customers.

Schoolcraft said the buffet is quite simply the only place in Jacksonville with large enough quarters for many groups.  The GOP group has been meeting there for roughly five years. As many as 40 people attend their monthly meetings held at 6:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month.

“It's important to have a place that's separated from the general public,” Schoolcraft said. “These are good people who work there and the service is good. We don't have anyone interfering in our meetings. Senior citizens get that discount so they can get a meal with a drink for $9.”

Melba Darrow, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, said  the prices there are very reasonable for a diverse amount of food. The meetings of Darrow's group, which take place at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday at the month, attract an average of 10 to 20 people. They've been meeting here about a year and a half.

“We have a room to meet in, and the people are nice and make us feel at home,” Darrow said. “We really, really like the food.”

Even High Road Safety Driving School, owned and primarily instructed by James M. Morris, holds its classes at Hong Kong Buffet. Its classes for April 6 and May 4 are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “They have a large private room that can be used for the classroom space required for our classes," Morris said. “So, with that available space, the price of the meal fits in with what I can charge reasonably.”

John Wilford, the county chairman for the Cherokee County Libertarian Party and a member of the executive committee for the Libertarian Party of Texas, said his group likes the way the restaurant is set up. Their next meeting there is slated for 5 p.m. April 27.

Wilford also is the listed representative of Jacksonville NORML, which specifies a membership of at least 12 advocates on meetup.com and also meets at the restaurant.

“It has a convenient private side room that allows us to meet without having to disturb others or be disturbed,” Wilford said.