The much-anticipated opening of the Gridiron Garage restaurant and sports bar at 419 Sharp St. is generating new energy on the south side of Glenwood’s Town Square.
Two lines of customers were waiting to get in when Ryan Sell and his wife, DeShawne Bird Sell, opened their establishment on June 30, and the place has been hopping ever since.
“We had a line down to No Frills in front and we had a line in the back. I started crying – I was so amazed by the support from the community,” DeShawne said. “We opened the doors and we were immediately packed. It was packed until 10 o’clock that Sunday night and we stayed busy all that week.”
Glenwood-area residents who remember the building as the home to Don’s Furniture Store won’t recognize the place when they enter the Gridiron Garage. The building’s interior has been given a complete overhaul since the furniture store’s closing last fall, with Ryan doing much of the work. From the carefully-crafted woodwork and stone archway in the center of the restaurant to the outdoor seating area out front, the Gridiron Garage has a contemporary, big-city look to it.
“We remodel a lot of rental houses. I just enjoy doing it, especially old buildings,” Ryan said. “So many people walk by on the square. We wanted something inviting to bring people in from off the square.”
Ryan, a professional firefighter, and DeShawne, who operates her law practice from the building next door to the Gridiron Garage, have received numerous compliments about the “upscale” appearance and “big city” feel of the restaurant. While they’re appreciative of the kind words, they believe Glenwood is deserving of a restaurant similar to what’s available in the Old Market area of Omaha and throughout the metro area.
“Everybody says that to us – this is upscale for Glenwood. I disagree,” Ryan said. “I think the people that live here deserve the same thing people in the Old Market and west Omaha have. Every time you go out to eat somewhere in Omaha or Council Bluffs, you see somebody from Glenwood.”
Ryan and DeShawne envision their sports-themed restaurant being a place where local residents can come together with family and friends, to watch the big game on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon or to discuss the high school Rams after their game on a Friday night.
“We want a place where people can congregate,” Ryan said. “They can come with their kids and say 'Hi' to each other. That really hasn’t existed in Glenwood since the Sundown Supper Club left.”
The menu at the Gridiron Garage is still a work in progress. The restaurant opened with an abbreviated menu of appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, Tex-Mex and pizza. In the next week, the “full menu” will be unveiled with everything from steaks and weekend prime rib, to meatloaf and homemade mac and cheese. One of the featured menu items is a tribute to Ryan’s grandmother, Mary Taylor.
“She has a hamball recipe that they’ve used at the Congregational and Methodist church for years,” DeShawne said. “We put those on the menu in honor or Ryan’s grandma.”
While Ryan was building the restaurant, he left the menu planning up to his wife, daughter Maddee and the restaurant’s manager Kelsy Young.
“I left that up to them. I just told them to put steak in there for me” Ryan said. “They did an excellent job on the menu.”
DeShawne said most of the menu items are made from scratch.
“We patty our own burgers, we make our mozzarella sticks, we make our tortilla chips for the nachos and artichoke dip. Even our ranch and blue cheese is homemade,” she said. “We don’t have frozen meat. The chicken is fresh and the beef is all choice Angus beef from Midwest.”
The most popular item to date at the Gridiron Garage is the deep-fried mozzarella sticks.
“Each one is about the size of a stick of butter and each one is homemade,” DeShawne said. “The mozzarella is breaded twice.”
The next order of business, DeShawne said, is determining what types of desserts should be offered.
“We’re still deciding what’s wanted,” DeShawne said.
In addition to the food items, the Gridiron Garage offers a wide array of beverages, ranging from sodas and craft beers to speciality drinks. A full menu of martinis is in the works.
Ryan and DeShawne said the restaurant is a dream come true.
“We had always talked about doing something like this,” Ryan said. “Now that we’ve done it, we plan to be here for a long time.”
The Gridiron Garage is open daily for lunch, dinner and everything in between.