In 2005, after years in the food and beverage industry, Cheri Knight took a shot at her dream.
Her restaurant, The Garden Fish, found quick success in downtown Fayetteville. However, just a few months later, a change in Knight’s personal life forced him to reassess.
“I found out I was pregnant after about two months,” she said. “So I made the choice to be a mother and we closed.”
Over the next five years, Knight, a native of Charleston, SC, worked in local restaurants while her husband Jason worked as a raft guide and a travel nurse.
In 2010, while expecting their second child, the couple packed up and moved back to South Carolina so Knight could be closer to family while Jason traveled for work.
Although the couple’s official residence was more than 400 miles away, they never left Fayetteville for long, maintaining their home and returning for regular vacations.
And they often also talked about a permanent return, but did not accept the idea of uprooting the lives of their children.
But in 2020, when the pandemic forced changes for children everywhere, the couple decided to return.
“Our kids were basically homeschooled, so we put our house on the market and moved back here for about a month,” Knight said.
Their return to Fayetteville brought with it a return to Knight’s not-so-forgotten dream of running her own restaurant as well.
And, as fate would have it, the opportunity for a second strike came quickly – in the same place.
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“We had no plans when we came back,” Knight said. “We just wanted to come back and enjoy all that West Virginia has to offer.”
Knight was working part-time at her old job at Pies & Pints when the building at 115 East Maple St. became available.
“Ideas started popping up in my head again and I couldn’t get past it,” she said.
It didn’t hurt that the building looked much the same as the day The Garden Fish closed.
“Almost everything I put in here 15 years ago is still here,” she said. “It was definitely like coming back with a lot of nostalgia.”
Although the building and equipment remain largely the same, Knight decided on a new name — and new menu — for her new venture.
She and Jason, who quit travel nursing to help focus on the restaurant, opened The Take Out in March.
Although the name fits well with the style of the food — mostly made to order — Knight said she chose the name for another reason, a special fit for the Fayetteville area.
“The Take Out is a game on the river,” she said, referring to the common name for the end of a rafting trip. “My husband, being a big part of the outdoor community, knew it would be a good, well-known name.”
As for the menu, Knight looked around town for what was already on offer.
“We didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” she said. “We wanted to revamp what we had done before with a better menu and food that is not already available in Fayetteville.”
Knight said the menu ideas came quickly as she thought about the flavors she liked and missed.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it and writing down ideas,” she said. “I just started putting recipes together.”
Knight’s creations allow customers to build their own salads, sandwiches or rice bowls by choosing a flavor profile and topping it with a protein — chicken, pork, beef, tempeh, tofu or shrimp.
Although customers enjoy creating their own meals, Knight said the most popular menu item is the Sushi Bowl.
“This is the only thing we kept from our old menu,” she said of the House Special, which includes seasoned rice, sushi tuna, salmon, crab, carrots, edamame and other entrees.
Although vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items are offered and are often popular choices, Knight doesn’t describe The Take Out as a health food restaurant, but as one that offers healthy options.
“(The food is) simple but flavorful,” she said. “You can choose the healthy options, or you can be as indulgent as you want.”
Although The Take Out offers limited seating — eight seats inside the reverse style, a porch out front and picnic tables out back — Knight said it’s doing well.
“We’re easily accessible here in town and we get a lot of locals and tourists who stop by,” she said. “We’re growing and growing every week.”
And soon, she said, she would like to take her business to other countries, opening The Take Out in other cities.
“We have a great place here in town, but I would definitely like to grow in other communities,” she said. “We just want to perfect this model as much as possible before we jump.”
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Take Out, located at 115 E. Maple St. in Fayetteville, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Orders can be placed in person, online at www.thetakeoutwv.com or by phone at 304-900-9057.
— Email: [email protected]