Columbia has had a host of buffet type restaurants serving different cuisines but I will always remember Chou's Buffet as my favorite when it came to Chinese food. For a low price a person was able to fill up on a host of wonderfully flavored Chinese dishes. Other Chinese buffets, which are still around today, may have a lot of choices but all the food seemed to have a similiar taste, like they were cooked with the same sauce. At Chou's each dish had a unique look and taste that stimulated my taste buds. Now for some people this place may not have had the best Chinese food but for the cost you could not beat the quality.
I believe it was started by Dave Chou more than twenty years ago when he and his wife were attending MU. His sons helped out and I got to know one of them, Sam, thru another business he started, an auto repair shop that he built right behind the restraurant. This repair shop was awesome with excellent service and good prices. One time a belt came off my Mazda on a Friday evening and I had it towed to Sam's shop. It was closed at the time but I remembered he also worked at the restaurant so I went over to see if I could find him. I was directed to the back kitchen where Sam had an apron on and was cooking items for the buffet. He was friendly as always and we talked about my problem with the Mazda. In comes the auto repair office manager who was helping out by delivering food that evening. They took the keys to the car and told me to call the shop first thing Saturday morning. Well the office manager called me at home early the next day and said they had repaired the car and it was ready to pick up. There was no charge because the belt had been put on by them and was still under warranty. What service!
In the months that followed I had more car problems so I was able to talk to Sam more about the restaurant. He related that his parents were older now and they should not work as hard as they have over the years. Finding good help for the restaurant was hard and he himself was more interested in automobiles then running a restaurant as the hours were better and not so time consuming. They closed the restaurant during Christmas break and never opened it back up for a long time. He got married and experienced small micro breweries and wanted to open one in Columbia. Sam sold his auto repair place and renovated the old Chou's Buffet location and with a friend who knew how to make beer opened the Grindstone Brewing Company. That may be a blog entry in itself so I won't go any further. So ends my entry regarding Chou's Buffet and I hope others can remember more detail. My question to the readers, did they have a Japanese style steak house area in an elevated area of the Chou's? Let me know.