Originally created 02/12/02

Texan takes charge



The Eat-a-Plenty restaurant chain, famous for its fresh-cut fries, foot-long chili-slaw dogs and giant hamburgers, is closing after 40 years in Augusta.

But you can still get an Eat-a-Plenty burger downtown.

That's because Texas native Charles Butcher has bought all the Eat-a-Plenty assets - including the recipes - and plans to cook the same food in the same spot and sell it at the same price.

The new name of the Broad Street eatery is Shuck's - but that's the least of the changes Mr. Butcher has planned.

By April, Mr. Butcher hopes to accent the traditional Southern diner atmosphere with booth and bar seating, waitresses, satellite television, an expanded menu, a liquor license and a karaoke machine.

He will also redo the ceiling and floors, commission paintings from local artists and knock down the wall separating the food preparation area and the kitchen. His plans for extending the dining room will double its capacity to 80 people.

The expanded menu will include shrimp, oysters, Philly cheese steak and Reuben sandwiches and various vegetarian items, all in addition to the traditional Eat-a-Plenty fare.

Mr. Butcher's pride will be his family's 47-ingredient Texas chicken wings recipe, which was passed down from his great-great-great-grandfather in a handwritten cookbook from the 1700s.

"It didn't start out as a wing recipe - it was the way they seasoned their meat back then," Mr. Butcher said. "It's been passed down and passed down - it's been real popular on wings. The people here have really gone for it so far."

The 25-year-old Dallas native was stationed at Fort Gordon for eight months and received an honorable discharge in January 2000. He met his wife, Nea, in Augusta. The couple decided to settle in the area to raise their daughter.

Mr. Butcher knows he's replacing an Augusta icon. Eat-a-Plenty burgers have been an area staple since Thomas Dicks started the franchise on Peach Orchard Road in 1961.

But some people who have tried the Texas wings say Shuck's could successfully emerge from the Eat-a-Plenty shadow.

Jerri Danforth, the owner of Jerri's Place on Broad Street, has dubbed Mr. Butcher's wing recipe "the bomb."

"We got a big plate and made everyone in here try them," the tavern owner said. "We nominated them the best wings we've ever had. Once he starts putting that sauce on shrimp and oysters, he's a keeper."

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.