By Richard Hanley
(MENA) Chiquita’s is celebrating their 33rd year in business since they opened up shop in May of 1996, by a young entrepreneur, Martin Knittig.
Knittig started his career in the food industry by working at numerous food chains such as Tasty Freeze and Casa Bonita where he found a love for the food industry and a service to the people.
Knittig worked until he was 29 years old and was ready to hit the scene with a bold new outlook on the local population, that they would really enjoy.
To the man who spends his days and nights for nearly 10 years and running the “ins and outs” of a business, and with hardly ever taking a day off work; and which Knittig has met no bounds when it comes to the mark that Chiquita’s will surely leave on Mena, if he should ever choose to close the doors and rest.
When asked about how the years have been with the restaurant Knittig simply stated, “It has been a journey at the least.” Being a man with many hats, Knittig stands tall as not only a man of faith, but a father of six children, as well as a grandfather to eight grandchildren, a cattleman and gardener.
Knittig finds that through the loyalty of his staff and through the help of the community, his business has truly been able to bloom into one of the towns favorite hot spots.
Knittig stated, “With the help of God and the support of the community, things have just fallen into place” in a discussion about the humble beginnings of Chiquita’s popularity.
If there is anything that can be taken from the experiences and challenges in starting a business such as Chiquita’s, Knittig quiped that ‘you need to put the hours in to be successful.’
Though the community has given life to the restaurant, the Chiquita’s family have found ways to impact the community with sponsoring school programs such as the Bearcat football team or the Mena band, to donating cooked meat to the college and feeding a large group for the Salvation Army.
Just as many in this small town of Mena love Chiquita’s, the Knittig family and Chiquita’s have found a way to love the people who help to keep the fire of the business alive.
All of this was shown when Knittig stated “the friendships we have made, have really helped us thrive.”
Knittig holds in high hopes that one day he may retire and someone from the family can continue to thrive in his stead so that the Chiquita’s name can live on for the next generations to come and can enjoy.