By Tim Leeds
Taco Time will reopen with a new look and a new owner in Havre.
Ying Lew, who owns and operates Canton Restaurant in Havre with her husband, Wayne, said she bought the franchise from Taco Time International and hopes to have the restaurant open by mid-December or early January.
"The company asked me to remodel it, give it a new look," she said.
Ron and Betty Knudson, the former owners of the franchise, closed Taco Time on Aug. 19. Lew said she wanted to reopen it because she was concerned that the closing of so many businesses in Havre lately could affect the rest of the businesses here.
In August, the Knudsons also closed the Park Hotel and Park Restaurant. The Wooden Heart gift shop in the Atrium Shopping Mall closed in July, and Jitters Coffee House and the Java to Java cyber cafe and coffee house closed in September.
Other businesses have opened or announced openings this summer. The Espresso, Etc. coffee shop opened in the Holiday Village Shopping Center in August, and the Sam Goody record and entertainment chain announced it will open a store in Holiday Village, tentatively on Oct. 26. Domino's Pizza announced its intention to open a franchise in Havre this fall.
Lew said she hopes to rehire many of the former workers from the Havre Taco Time to help her get the restaurant reopened.
Reopening Taco Time could help Canton's as well as other businesses in Havre, Lew added. She thinks that with more people working and more people coming to Havre to shop and eat, everyone should be better off.
Lew left Havre to go to Taco Time's corporate headquarters in Eugene, Ore., on Sept. 22. She began a training session, which is required before a prospective owner can buy a franchise from the company, on Sept. 24.
The training normally lasts six weeks, Lew said, but because of her experience in restaurant work she was allowed to take a three-week version of the training. Lew has worked at and helped operate Canton's for 12 years. She and her husband took over operation from her husband's parents.
Lew said she worked long hours seven days a week to complete the training, and finished in two weeks on Oct. 5. She had to pass a test before the company would agree to her taking over the franchise, and she is one of two people in the company's history to pass it with a 100 percent score, Lew said .
The training course included how to prepare and serve the food in the restaurant, how to manage it and how to meet health and sanitation requirements. "Most importantly they told me how to make the quality food and quality service," Lew said.
She said that when the restaurant reopens she will probably start with a simple, basic menu. As the employees become more used to doing the work, she plans to expand the menu.
Part of her remodeling plans include new menu selections. Lew said she will have a salsa bar built as part of the remodeling, along with a whole new look for the restaurant.