Rick Doody is in no hurry to open Lindey’s Lake House
(2101 Richmond Rd., 216-342-5030). Despite birthing literally hundreds of restaurants, he approaches each one as if it’s the most important thing that he’s ever endeavored. Rather than sprint toward the finish line, he and his team prefer to invest the time it takes to properly staff, train, test and at least attempt to perfect the operation before anybody pays a nickel.
“We’re still tweaking it, trying to figure it out,” Doody says as a staffer presents him with small plates of food to sample. “We hope to open in a couple weeks, but we still have a lot to do.”
When it opens in mid-November, Lindey’s Lake House will join sister establishment Cedar Creek Grille at La Place Center by Beachwood Place. Some might question the logic of opening a new restaurant directly next door to one that you already own, but Doody thinks that the concepts are unique enough to attract their own clientele.
“I’ll either look really smart or really dumb really soon,” he quips. “Whereas Cedar Creek Grille is sort of dark and clubby – the classic American grill – this is going to be light, white and have a lake house feel. The goal was to go younger, more casual with lower price points. It’s going to be different for Cleveland, that’s for sure.”
To create the 3,200-square-foot, 110-seat restaurant, Doody stole some space from Cedar Creek Grille, to which he added with new construction. As the name suggests, the open, well-appointed, light-filled space would not seem out of place in the Hamptons, or the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, where the Doody clan has vacationed for generations.
“My family has been in the restaurant business for 40 years,” he explains. “It’s a lot of hard work and our one reprieve every year was going up to our lake house in Northern Michigan in summer. I was going up there because my grandparents we’re going up there, my father was going up there, and now my kids go up there. The restaurant is all about a return to that type of experience.”
Long before it was the trendy thing to do, Doody adds, his family we would buy produce from the local farmers market, seafood from the local fishery, and everything else from the general store. He intends to duplicate as much of those practices as possible at Lindey’s.
The restaurant has the easy-going elegance of a well-appointed summer home, with white-washed clapboard, comfortable wicker chairs, and scores of real family photos. Guests are welcomed by a wood-burning fireplace. Hand-lettered chalkboard signs herald fresh-baked pies. There are two bars, one separated from the main room and another that faces the open kitchen, warmed by a wood-burning pizza oven.
From that oven will exit “cracker-thin” pizzas topped with items like pepperoni from Raddell's in Collinwood, locally foraged mushrooms, and house-made ricotta. Meals might start with locally made burrata with grilled country bread, jumbo lump crab cakes with autumn hash, or a seasonal salad with kale, cabbage, pecans, bacon and pear vinaigrette.
Larger plates will include fried Amish chicken with hot honey and corn pudding, shrimp scampi linguine, blue cheese-crusted lamb chops with Brussles sprouts, and a grilled prime ribeye steak for two with chimichurri. Sandwiches like diner-style double "smash" burgers and Maine lobster rolls will join taco platters built around grilled mahi, shaved steak and Korean BBQ. All of the above will be overseen by longtime chef Phil Yandolino.
The name is an homage to Lindey's, the iconic restaurant that Doody’s pioneering mother Sue opened in the German Village neighborhood of Columbus way back in 1981. After nearly 40 years, the restaurant still is a citywide landmark.
“My mom died in April and the name is one way we can keep the inspiration of her going,” Doody says. “Lindey’s was always her baby.”
Growing up in the restaurant business clearly made an impression on the Doody boys. In 1992, Rick and brother Chris opened the first Bravo restaurant. In 1999, they opened the first Brio, a more upscale version. A few decades and scores of locations later they sold the brand to a private equity firm for $100 million.
“Ironically, we opened a Lindey’s in Cleveland in 1984 and it didn’t work,” Doody confesses. “Hopefully, we’ve learned a little about the restaurant business in the last 35 years.”
Doody also owns Coastal Taco in the East Bank of the Flats while his brother went the fast-casual route with Piada Italian Street Food.
When it opens on (or near) November 14, the restaurant will serve dinner and later-night fare. Lunch will be added down the road.