Restaurant reopening as C&J’s Family Dining

As the old adage goes, “With every ending, there is a new beginning.” And, this holds true for one of the region’s longstanding restaurants.

Officials with Pop’s Place announced the closure of the restaurant’s Denison location this weekend after more than a decade in Sherman-Denison. The location was officially sold this weekend to long-time managers Cody Links and James Auldridge, who plan to reopen this week as C&J’s Family Dining.

The changes to one of the region’s most popular restaurants comes nearly four months to the day after the death of owner and namesake Michael “Pop” Lowery in August. Following questions about the future of the restaurant, ZaVonna Arrington said she planned to continue both the Denison and Southmayd restaurants in her husband’s memory.

“At 4 p.m., I signed paperwork to sell the contents of that business to my good friends Cody and James so they can proudly open their very own restaurant called “C&J’s Family Dining” on Wednesday in that very building,” Arrington said Sunday in a Facebook post, adding that she will continue to operate the Southmayd location. “I am so proud of them for their new journey in the restaurant business, and I wish them the absolute best!”

Arrington attributed the decision to sell the business as a desire to simplify her life. Beyond the two restaurants, Arrington also plays mother to three children, helps guide the education of countless others as a member of the Southmayd School Board and works as a advocate with CASA of Grayson County.

“It is hard to balance a life with three kids, two businesses, non-profit work with CASA and my school board work,” she said.

The decision to close the Denison location came in the last couple of months as the family began to plan for with the first Christmas without “Pop.” Arrington said she decided to pray about it and decided she wanted to focus on her kids.

“Going from a two-parent household to a one-parent household was just work, work, work, work,” she said.

Arrington decided to approach her managers in Denison about purchasing the business, which was finalized on Sunday.

“We’ve spent the last 12 years together,” she said. “We are family and a family of choice.”

Despite leaving the Denison location, Arrington will continue to operate the Southmayd location. Her career started in Southmayd before the opening of Pop’s Place Too, and it was only fitting that she would continue the family business there.

“If you look at the beginning, Southmayd was the start — Southmayd is home,” she said.

Arrington said the Southmayd location would change its name to Pop’s Place and will remain mostly the same. However, she is looking to possibly hire a breakfast cook and extended morning hours could be coming some time in the new year.

For his part, Links described Lowery as a father-figure and mentor who taught his employees what he knows about the restaurant business.

“James and I started working working for Pop 13 years ago and we never expected to be in this industry as long as we have,” said Cody Links, co-owner of C & J’s Family Dining. “He stood behind us, kicked our tails when we need it, but also loved, supported and taught us.”

With the transition, Auldridge said the next several days will be extremely busy as they face inspections, work, transferring over cash register service and security alarms. If things work out, they plan to open their doors for the first time on Wednesday.

“We kind of expected this and knew what we signed up for, but we look forward to it,” he said.

Auldridge said he is considering returning frog legs to the Friday night menu following a warm reception previously. The pair are also considering adding appetizers for the first time along with fresh fruit and other breakfast options.

“We played with these ideas in the past but never had the chance to fully try them,” he said.