They would all say the same thing: “You’ve got to open a restaurant.” So in September, the couple took that advice and opened The Eatery restaurant at the existing Hodge Podge Lodge venue.
“We’re here to create joyful experiences through great service and exceptional food. And those joyful memories are what it’s all about,” Jeff Angelo said. “That’s why I came out of retirement. It takes a lot of work to do that. The payoff is people finding a lot of joy and happiness in this 166-year-old home.”
Much of the menu is the product of Executive Chef Rick Adams, who was one of the founding members of the Pappas barbecue and seafood restaurants. Angelo describes the menu as American, but prides the food as being eclectic. The Eatery menu features homemade pasta, sea bass and the onion rings that started it all.
“‘That’s the best fill-in-the-blank I’ve ever eaten,’ I hear that every day,” Angelo said. “‘That’s the best Hollandaise I’ve ever eaten. That’s the best burger I’ve ever put in my mouth. That’s the best sauce—how do you make your sauce? Can I have the recipe?’ I always say, ‘Yeah. Whatever we got.’”
With less than a year under its belt, The Eatery is already coordinating with other local businesses on plates such as Father’s Day pancakes with The Sanctuary Blueberry Farm. Angelo said he also has plans for a special private dining area, tableside chef service, a country store and full-service catering.
He said the incredible amount of work the restaurant requires is shocking, but at the end of the day is worth it to create a place where Montgomery can build on its community.
“I think people always want to experience something that’s a little bit unique,” Angelo said. “And if it comes with a dose of a great culinary, great meal, great conversations, great wine. … It’s a great feeling, and that’s really why we’re here—to create a great feeling.”
The Eatery at Hodge Podge Lodge
300 Prairie St, Montgomery
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (brunch), 5-9 p.m. (dinner); closed Sun.-Mon.