Chuck’s Sandwich Shop

Owners Chuck and Debra Lafayette with son Aaron. Chuck and Aaron cook in the kit
The Reuben is loaded with corned beef topped with sauerkraut and served on grill

When Chuck Lafayette, a former offshore boat captain from Jacksonville, Florida, opened his sandwich shop nearly 30 years ago, he knew it wouldn’t be easy for his restaurant to survive in downtown Beaumont. He needed a plan and a vision to keep his business thriving in an area where customers would not be plentiful after their work shifts ended at 5 o’clock.

The restaurant opens early enough (6 a.m.) to attract breakfast customers on their way to work, but closes early as well (2 p.m.).

This may seem too early to close, but Chuck knows his customers’ routines well.

“Once they get off work, they want to go home for a meal. They want meat and potatoes and vegetables,” Chuck said. “You can stand on this sidewalk at 5 p.m. and see the cars headed home. It wouldn’t matter if you were a naked lady, they wouldn’t stop for nothing. They’re going home.”

So how has Chuck’s Sandwich Shop not only survived but thrived all these years, despite its unusual business hours?

“Three things — quality, affordability and quick service,” Chuck said.

While Chuck, who began cooking at the age of 12, can usually be seen in the kitchen cooking up an order, his wife, Debra, works the front counter. And if you’ve visited the restaurant a couple of times already, Debra will probably already know your favorite order by heart.

“People like that mom and pop feel,” Chuck said. “It keeps people coming back. She and I are in here running this place the best that we can run it.”

While competition in downtown Beaumont has come and gone, Chuck’s has continued to be a mainstay.

“If you’re serving good stuff, you’ve got an advantage,” Chuck said.

Speedy service is essential to attracting the lunch crowd that Chuck depends on for business.

“A lot of people only have 30-minute or 1-hour lunches, including the time they left the door of their office, to get back,” said Chuck, who added that the lunch hour keeps him and his son Aaron, who works in the kitchen alongside his dad, on their toes. “As soon as I empty these tables, I can fill them again.”

And if you show up at 11 a.m., don’t be intimidated if you see a long line of customers waiting to place their orders because the service is fast and the quality of the food doesn’t suffer.

Customer favorites

We recommend three favorites from Chuck’s menu, which has barely changed in 30 years. The Reuben is loaded with corned beef topped with sauerkraut, and served on grilled rye bread with Swiss cheese and a smidgen of Thousand Island dressing ($6.50); the bacon cheeseburger on freshly made bread with crispy bacon and beef patties cooked to perfection with American cheese and all the fixin’s is $6.25; and the Chicken Strip Baked Potato ($7.95) comes with cheddar cheese, creamy white gravy, and succulent strips of fried chicken. You can’t go wrong with any of these choices. The tuna salad ($6.25) and steak finger ($7.75) and chicken strip ($7.95) baskets are popular as well, according to Chuck.

Make sure you add fries ($2.50) or tots ($2.75) to your order. You can add a drink and fries or tots for an additional $4.

The tots were added to the menu after a customer requested them.

“There was a girl that used to work for the bail bonds company in The Gilbert Building a long time ago, and she always wanted tater tots,” Chuck said. “I decided we were going to get that girl some tater tots.”

Yes, it was just that simple. Chuck’s takes care of its customers. That’s why they keep coming back. And if you are lucky enough, you might get a piece of homemade chocolate cake, which Debra bakes fresh every morning. Indulge, if you can get a piece. You won’t be sorry.