Happy Chefs In Cedar Rapids Close; One To Reopen Under New Name
By George C. Ford, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Happy Chef Family Restaurants in Cedar Rapids are going through a transition that will mean a new owner and name for the northeast location and closure for the longtime southwest eatery.
A sign posted on the front door of the Happy Chef at 1906 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE indicates that the reataurant will be closing for a short period of time and reopening as Scott's Family Restaurant.
A similar sign posted on the front door of the Happy Chef at 365 33rd Ave. SW by owner Chuck Melby announced the closing of the restaurant after 36 years of business. No further information was available regarding the future of the restaurant, a popular spot on the busy road off Interstate 380 that is lined with hotels.
Melby and his wife, Sheri, purchased the four Happy Chef restaurants in Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Waterloo in June 2002. The Cedar Falls and Waterloo Happy Chef locations also were closed on Monday and the Melbys were not available for comment.
Chuck Melby started working for a Mason City restaurant when he was 15, came to Happy Chef on 33rd Avenue SW when he was 18 and became manager before his 19th birthday.
The 33rd Avenue SW Happy Chef was opened by Bill Ulrich in 1974 as Interstate 380 was being extended north from Iowa City. The location on Blairs Ferry Road NE opened in 1978 and was expanded by the Melbys in recent years to provide space for a Sunday brunch buffet.
Happy Chef Systems Inc., based in Mankato, Minn., has 14 locations in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota in addition to the locations in Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Waterloo owned by the Melbys.