Having been brought up in the restaurant business at Das Essen Haus behind the tutelage of original owners Edward and Esther Diener, Becky Rhodes now has been handed the reins, recently taking over the Pettisville restaurant with husband Brandon.
Purchasing it from Carlos and Rachel Tobar, Rhodes’ plan is to restore the old menu as a way of honoring its original owners — “making their dream come to life again” as she puts it.
Rhodes, a Pettisville native, began working for Edward and Esther when she was 12 years old, and worked there a total of 12 years prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom. While raising her three kids, who are now in their teens, she had a catering business which she ran for roughly seven years.
Most recently, Rhodes spent the last seven years at Don’s Automotive Group in Wauseon, but always wanted to get back into the food industry.
Now she gets her chance.
The primary aspects she loves about the restaurant business are creating new recipes and serving people. “I just love being around people and serving people,” Rhodes said. “I used to do some catering too. So, I like not just the food end of it, but the serving people. And being able to visit with people and provide a service to them.”
According to Rhodes, the customers of Das Essen Haus will be best served by employing some of the old traditions first brought on by the Dieners.
She describes it as a “meat and potatoes” style of restaurant.
Most everything will be homecooked or made from scratch. Additionally, Rhodes’ goal is to re-insert items to the menu that had been taken off.
When the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic improves, a salad bar buffet will be made available to customers. They will also have a Saturday morning breakfast buffet and Wednesday night seafood buffet — which consists of all-you-can-eat seafood and broasted chicken.
“I think good quality food. And our (number one) goal is customer service,” said Rhodes on what the new owners will provide to customers.
Other changes include opening for breakfast at 7 a.m. as opposed to 8; putting tapioca back on the menu, a favorite of customer’s when the Diener’s ran the restaurant; and once again having an in-house baker.
This person or persons will produce various types of rolls and homemade cookies for the public. Also inside the restaurant, there will be a mini general store which will shelf the baked goods — including homemade breads — for customer purchase.
Rhodes says they will be employing some of the same cooks and waitresses that previously served under the restaurant’s first owners.
“Probably the biggest thing is — other than going back to the old menu — just incorporating the customer-first attitude,” said Rhodes as to how they will restore the Dieners’ vision. “Giving a package of cinnamon rolls for someone’s birthday. You know, people used to come in just because they were gonna get a package of homemade cinnamon rolls. Going back to that whole family atmosphere.”
Her plan is for it to be a family business. The couple’s three children will spend time working at the restaurant.
However, before they can open back up to the public, some construction needs to be completed. The construction will be divided into two phases.
The first phase — which started last week — will take anywhere from a week to two weeks. Therefore, they hope to open sometime this week, to serve takeout at the absolute minimum.
Phase two deals with the two upstairs rooms, one that seats approximately 35 people and another for large gatherings of around 100. The desired completion date for phase two is October.
Work needed includes a remodel of bathrooms, installation of new kitchen equipment, a new ceiling installed in the dining room, a new roof, painting, taking wallpaper down, and other projects.
Rhodes says they are shooting to be open for dine-in services by this Thursday, May 21, when Governor Mike DeWine has said restaurants can reopen their doors.
To help deal with issues related to COVID-19, when first opening they will do so without any buffet options. Groups will be sat every other table, allowing for more than 6-feet of distance between them.
Also, waitresses and hostesses will wear masks. Kitchen staff will also have access to masks, but are instructed not to wear them while cooking for safety concerns.
If not ready to reopen for dine-in by the desired May 21 date, they should be by June 1 or sooner, according to Rhodes.