ANDERSON, Ind. — David Smith loves to cook, which is why he decided to open a new restaurant in a former ice cream shop location.
“I also like the fact that I’m adding more jobs to the Anderson-based community,” Smith, 42, said.
The Avenue Diner, 2326 Columbus Ave., still specializes in hand-dipped ice cream, he said.
“We offer more than 10 flavors right now, but we are going to have 32 flavors by this summer,” Smith said.
The restaurant, which had been the site of Hot Spot and Madewell's, has also expanded its offerings to include sandwiches and sides.
Smith said they opened Dec. 1, 2013, and want to build their own dining reputation.
The first step in that transition is creating a new image through its jumbo tenderloins and fish sandwiches that are “out-of-this-world good,” he said.
The second step is ensuring customers receive excellent service.
“We have several regulars who come in quite often and we are turning our first-time customers into regulars,” Smith said. “We try to know people by their names.
“I think that is what people like.”
Smith, who has prior experience at Grindstone Charley's, Applebee's and Lutz's Steakhouse, said he is using his know-how as a chef and in restaurant management to cater to the needs of his customers.
And his focus is the food.
“We have good food and the best ice cream in Anderson,” Smith said. “And we serve real burgers – not soy burgers.”
Smith also admits he plans to run his business a little bit old-fashioned.
“Our recipes are homemade, we hand-batter our food and all of our soups are made from scratch,” Smith said. “My mom even comes in to give me ideas.”
Both Smith and his co-owner, Rick Beason, 51, employ their daughters at the restaurant making it a family-owned-and-operated business.
Smith said his ultimate goal is to build a menu around his customers.
“I know how to cook your food, not what you want,” he said. “We want to know what people want and we will try them out and if they work, we will keep them.”
Smith said the restaurant is undergoing extensive remodeling to accompany its new transition.
“We want to have a homemade atmosphere to go with our homemade food,” Smith said.
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