When a long-serving restaurant in a small town closes for good, it leaves a hole in the community. That’s what happened in 2017 when the Grabill Inn closed after decades of service. The Woodhouse Restaurant, which recently opened in its place, seeks to fill that void while offering new choices.
The Amish family business is owned by Elmer Lengacher and managed by his son-in-law Marvin Schmucker. When the family started working on the restaurant in early 2019, the goal was to bring a more upscale casual dining experience to Grabill, Schmucker said.
As they developed the menu, they were sure to take community wants into consideration. The resulting menu offers steak and seafood as well as “country favorites” reminiscent of the old Grabill Inn like “Gma’s Meatloaf” and country fried chicken.
“We had requests for it, so that’s what we did: left some of the old favorites on there and then we sort of threw a whole new ball game at it, something totally different,” Schmucker said.
Steak and seafood highlights include “The Woodhouse,” an 8-ounce top sirloin with sautéed onions and mushrooms; a 20-ounce porterhouse; jumbo crab legs; and North Atlantic wild caught cold water lobster tails.
Customers can enjoy complimentary freshly baked bread with their meal and choose from a selection of seasonal pies for dessert.
The Woodhouse Restaurant opened Nov. 19. In addition to the menu, the restaurant’s facade and interior also got an overhaul. Schmucker said they essentially gutted the restaurant and started from scratch.
Maple woodwork throughout the restaurant creates a warm and rustic lodge-like dining space. The new restaurant also offers a private room that can be reserved for parties.
So far, customer feedback has been mostly positive, Schmucker said. The restaurant has had the opportunity to serve both local residents and customers from out of town, he said.
Steve and Mary Leffel, of Grabill, used to frequent the Grabill Inn for breakfast and were sad when it closed. However, since the Woodhouse opened, they have become regular customers for dinner. The couple said the restaurant offers options that they previously had to drive to Fort Wayne to find.
“It’s nice and close to home. Just a mile down the road,” Mary said.
In addition to the restaurant’s convenient location, the couple said they enjoy the food and ambiance at the Woodhouse.
“The homemade bread that they serve everyone is excellent. It melts in your mouth,” Mary said.
“It’s low-key and friendly,” Steve said.
On Tuesday nights, the Woodhouse offers an all-you-can-eat fish fry dinner for $12.95. The meal includes a choice of two all-you-can-eat sides including french fries, mashed potatoes and gravy, Amish potato salad, applesauce, cottage cheese, house salad, baked potato, brown butter noodles, or mixed vegetables.
Schmucker hopes to offer additional specials on different nights in the future. Customers can get updates on The Woodhouse Restaurant Facebook page.
The Woodhouse Restaurant is located at 13706 Fairview Drive, Grabill. The restaurant is open 4-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.