Home style food in a family-friendly environment.
That’s the simple philosophy behind Glenwood’s newest restaurant.
“We believe in the importance of a family sitting around the dinner table at night and having a hot meal together,” Joe Kuhnert said. “We want that home-cooked, family meal to be the experience they have here.”
Kuhnert and his wife, Wendy, are the new owners of Doodles Grill, formerly known as the Oasis, at 104 S. Walnut St. The Kuhnerts purchased the Oasis from Butch and Marilyn Fidler in June and opened the doors to Doodles on July 8.
“One of the reasons a lot of restaurants fail is that they have a good idea, but they don’t have a name and a concept that pulls everything together,” Wendy Kuhnert said. “We wanted families to come in, put their cell phones down and interact with one another. You go to a restaurant today, and everybody’s head is down looking at their electronic thing. No one’s eating together any more.
“We want our guests to feel welcome here. We call them guests because I wouldn’t call somebody in my home a customer. This is an extension of our home and we want everyone to be treated like a valued guest.”
Doodles, as the name suggests, is not only a place to dine, but also a place where patrons can show off their artistic skills while waiting for their food. The tables at the restaurant are covered with butcher paper. Patrons are provided a jar of crayons and encouraged to doodle on the disposable table covers. Doodlers can take their artistic creations home or leave them at the restaurant to be considered for placement on the “Doodles Wall of Fame.”
“We’re seeing big old biker dudes coloring some of the coolest drawings or playing Tick-tack-toe with their kids,” Wendy said.
The Kuhnerts had never owned a restaurant prior to last month, but both Joe and Wendy have extensive cooking and bistro experience. Joe was a corporate trainer for TGIFridays and Wendy is a culinary school graduate. They met in Minnesota while working together in a restaurant.
“The story started 24 years ago with me yelling at her through a kitchen window,” Joe said. “She was a server and I was a cook. She had a goofy order and I said a few foul words. She stood up and we had it out. Then, we had a drink afterword, fell in love and we’ve been together for 24 years.”
The Kuhnerts have lived in Glenwood since 2000 and have contemplated having their own restaurant for several years.
“We’ve been talking about doing something for a long time,” Wendy said. “We even looked at the Ponderosa and Glenwood Café, but things didn’t work out.”
The menu at Doodles features some of the same items that were popular with Oasis patrons, including broasted chicken and prime rib, but also several new selections, including pork roast and pastas made from Kuhnert family recipes. The mashed potatoes are authentic and daily specials vary from week to week.
“A lot goes into making the food,” Wendy said. “These are my recipes, my grandmother’s recipes.
“Our most popular item on the menu is something called Doodle Strings. They’re crunchy, deep-fried red onion strings. They are phenomenal.”
Doodles’ “build your own” burgers are also proving to be popular. Patrons can customize their burger by adding the toppings of their choice, ranging from mushrooms and jalapeno peppers to fried eggs.
“Ninety percent of our food is made from scratch,” Joe said. “Almost all fried items are hand-breaded to order. Our pasta sauces are homemade and the burgers are hand pattied.
“Something we’re doing different than the Oasis did is we’re flame-broiling our steaks and burgers.”
Doodles is currently open Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 5 – 9 p.m., but breakfast hours are in the works. The restaurant offers private party space and meeting areas.
“We intend for the restaurant to grow and evolve with the community,” Wendy said.