New plans a cookin': Country Kitchen cuts down hours, hones in on breakfast and lunch crowd
Country Kitchen has some big changes in the works. Over the next few weeks the restaurant will be cutting back on its hours of operation, switching up the menu, and doing some front-of-the-house remodeling.
"Our corporation has decided to focus on what we're known for: our breakfast," said Deborah Streiff who owns and operates the business with her husband David. "Rather than trying to compete with everybody and be mediocre at everything, we've decided to focus on what we're famous for."
Everything should be finished come Jan. 1. They will close down for a few days to do the remodel, but some of the other changes have already started, like cutting back on their hours. Now they are open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., which will allow them to focus on their breakfast and lunch selections.
"We went from a little bit of breakfast and a little bit of lunch and a little bit of dinner to now it's a whole page of breakfast, a whole page of skillets, a whole page of omelettes," said Dave.
The menu will also have select lunch items, like burgers, sandwiches and salads, as well as the fan favorites, like the cod basket and chicken tenders.
"With the salads, people are going to be really happy. They're in a giant bowl. It's a lot, so now they offer half sizes of all of our salads," said David.
Cutting down on their hours is a smart business move in many ways. The Streiffs say the dinner hour wasn't the most popular time of day for them. Too many dinner joints have popped up in town for them to compete with. But another issue they were struggling with was trying to staff their building for all three meal times.
"It's been really tough trying to find quality employees that really want to work," said Deborah.
Since the Streiffs came back to the area five years ago to take over the Country Kitchen again, the only real vacation they have had was the two and a half days they took off to get married. Otherwise, they were either on site or on call in case something were to go awry.
"We can't be here 24 hours a day. We can't be here open to close," said Deborah. "We're hoping that with this move David and I can actually have a life."
Although, they don't mind the restaurant life, either. It's their home away from home, and that's the feel they're trying to create for their customers, too.
"Dave is the face of our business, in my opinion," said Deborah. "He loves to talk to people. Unfortunately, we've been in the back of the house because we need to make sure we've got quality food going out."
With this change, David is hoping to be able to be out of the kitchen and managing the front of the house a little more, chatting up the customers and trying to convince the bridge club ladies to let him play a round.
They're also hoping to spruce the place up a bit too with new booths, table tops and carpet. They will also be redoing the walls and ceiling tiles, as well as getting new inserts for their sign outside.
"It's just going to be cleaner-looking and updated...it's really dated in here," said Deborah, pointing to the floral wallpaper.
What they don't want to lose, though, is that homey feel, the feeling of sitting down to a table and enjoying a meal with the family.
Of course, not everything is hashed out just yet. David and Deborah are still toying with the idea of hosting events after they close at 3 p.m.
"If you have a wedding or a birthday or a funeral or a graduation, you can call, and it doesn't necessarily have to be our menu either," said David. "If you call far enough ahead of time, and I can get it, I can cook anything. I have no problem bringing in special foods, doing prime ribs, whatever they're looking for."
And there will be flexibility with the new changes, too. Country Kitchen may be an independently-owned franchise, but Deborah says they tout themselves on being pretty lenient with their rules.
"People are going to notice that some of their favorites aren't on the menu — just ask. I know the chicken bacon melt isn't on there. It's one of our number-one sellers. Oh, absolutely we're still going to sell it...the Aztec burger...it won't be on the menu. Just ask. There's that secret menu," said David with a laugh.