Family’s Midwestern farm roots on display at The Gilbert House

Susan Wright at The Gilbert House
Susan Wright said she did about every job available in the restaurant business, which proved valuable in running her own place, The Gilbert House. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Susan Wright said she did about every job available in the restaurant business, which proved valuable in running her own place, The Gilbert House. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The Two-Egg Breakfast ($9.95) is popular at The Gilbert House, Susan Wright said. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The Free-Range Buffalo Burger ($14) is a healthy choice of lean, range-fed buffalo from the Cheyenne River Ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Optional Ingredients include cheese, green chilis, mushrooms, grilled onions at $1 per ingredient. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Susan Wright, having spent many years in the restaurant business, said she long had wanted to open her own place. But in her restaurateur dreams, she did not envision a breakfast-and-lunch eatery.

“Never, ever,” she said. “I barely like eggs.”

That confession belies her formative years growing up on a South Dakota dairy farm. But nothing else about her restaurant, The Gilbert House, does.

The farmhouse setting and minimalist decor are in line with her Midwestern upbringing, she said. And so is the menu of breakfast and lunch favorites that feature farm-fresh ingredients with everything homemade.

“People always ask me, ‘Where’s your gluten-free menu?’” Wright said. “We don’t add anything to our food here. We make all our own sauces. There’s no flour in any of our sauces, our apple syrup, our caramel sauce, our green chili sauce. Pretty much anything can be gluten-free.”

Wright said she feels blessed to have the location in the Farmhouse Village on Gilbert Road, just south of the Heritage District.

Wright had been looking for a place to open a restaurant 18 years ago when she read that Ruth Gieszl, once a notable member of the Gilbert community, was going to rent out the farm buildings on her family’s property.

“So I whipped up some cinnamon rolls and went and knocked on her door, like you would in South Dakota. And surprisingly, she answered it, and she invited me in—which to this day I still think is funny,” Wright said.

Soon enough, she had rented the property, which already had a history as a breakfast spot. That led her into making The Gilbert House a breakfast-and-lunch restaurant.

Wright made the place in the traditions of her family, and although the restaurant is hers, her whole family has contributed. One brother built the restaurant tables. She uses the beer from another brother’s Walter Station Brewery in Phoenix. She imports buffalo meat from her sister’s buffalo ranch in South Dakota. Children and grandchildren have hosted, served and cooked. And many of the recipes are favorites of her from family members or restaurants where she previously has worked.

“Collectively, it’s kind of like that’s what I want to eat,” she said. “I want to serve people what I want to eat, and I don’t want to serve them anything that I wouldn’t [eat]. That puts the bar pretty high.”

Where’s the beef?

While you can eat beef at The Gilbert House, a signature of the restaurant is the use of bison meat from Wright’s sister’s ranch in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Wright touts the meat’s healthier qualities.

  • Lower in fat

  • Lower in calories

  • Higher in protein

  • High in Omega-3

The Gilbert House

397 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert


Hours: Tue.-Sun. 7 a.m.-2 p.m., closed Mon.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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