But his wife, Maureen, had a vision and a drive, and once word got out about the food she was cooking, the Henhouse Café quickly outgrew the idea of a standalone restaurant.
Maureen’s vision was for clean eating—serving bacon without nitrates, for example; made-to-order food—every order of eggs starts with them being cracked; and terrific customer service.
The residents in Gilbert embraced it. That led to the growth.
“I should have known better,” said Grebe, who played professional baseball for nine years. “I wanted one little restaurant after retiring. It didn’t stay that way for long.”
The Henhouse Café has three locations, two in Gilbert and one in Mesa, and a fourth location is likely to come soon.
The Grebes are in negotiations to expand the Lindsay Road spot into the space next door in May. They are also working to open a new location in Queen Creek at Riggs and Ellsworth roads.
One popular menu choice is Mom’s Homemade Pancakes, giants that became a viral sensation on social media.
Other top items include the Green Chili Skillet, chicken and waffles, and Kitchen Sink Omelet. And do not forget about the in-house made syrup, Grebe warns.
“We’re cooking everything to order,” Grebe said. “It might slow our kitchen down—we’re doing 17-minute ticket times on Saturdays and 17 to 22 on Sundays—but we have always brought that to the attention of the customers. If you want fast food, I’d rather you go eat at IHOP and get the food fast but be miserable. If you get your food in five minutes here, then I hope you don’t come back. We don’t have stuff that’s back there and sitting. Those eggs are cracked, and everything will be made for you right then.”
That approach is how the Henhouse Café grew from a sports bar that started serving breakfast to the 10 a.m. football crowd to being on the verge of operating four breakfast cafés.
“Without the Gilbert community, we wouldn’t be what we are today,” Grebe said. “And, of course, my wife—she cooks from scratch. She wants to make sure she is an advocate for the customer, and they pay us back by coming back again and again.”