At 28, when Phil Holub was promoted to manager and part owner of Outback Steakhouse, he also became hooked on the idea of having his own restaurant.
“From that moment on I would say 'if I ever have my own place ...,'" Holub said.
Holub recently fulfilled his dream by buying Sheffield’s Restaurants in Dyer and Merrillville with co-owner Don Reed. The Merrillville Sheffield’s, 1515 E. 82nd Ave., the former site of Angelo’s Sicilian Cart, is open from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily. The Dyer Sheffield’s, 1027 Sheffield Ave. is open 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sundays and Mondays and 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Buying the business has brought challenges for Holub and Reed.
In Merrillville, they decided to cater to both smoking and non-smoking clients with separate sections for each. The Dyer Sheffield’s, on the other hand, became smoke-free including the bar.
“The Merrillville Sheffield’s is a very unique restaurant,” Holub said. “We want people to feel comfortable and to realize that they have a choice.”
In Dyer, Holub and Reed have been busy remodeling, replacing flooring and furniture, stripping everything off the walls and repainting.
In addition to offering homemade soups and salad dressings, they use the freshest ingredients possible, Holub said. Perch, a Northwest Indiana favorite, will be added to the menu along with hand-breaded shrimp, almond encrusted walleye and a signature ice cream sandwich dessert, Holub said.
“It will be made from scratch and be warm and gooey,” Holub said.
Sheffield’s offers local delivery, a catering service and banquet facilities at both locations which serve between 70 and 90 persons. The restaurants offer early bird breakfast specials for senior citizens along with other discounts.
At both locations, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays customers who show their union cards get a free hamburger meal.
“Northwest Indiana is a hub for unions,” Holub said.
Patrons who dine at Sheffield’s on their birthday receive a percentage off their meal equivalent to their age.
“Recently, a lady who turned 84 paid $1.07 for a $7 taco salad,” Holub said.
Law enforcement officers and firefighters receive 50 percent off their meals.
Holub, in addition to working at about 50 Midwest Outback Steakhouse locations and Ruby Tuesday, was part of the original opening design team at Cedar Lake’s Lighthouse Restaurant. Holub said the best thing about being in the restaurant business is the people you meet.
“It is always going to be about the customers,” Holub said. “A lot of my customers have become close personal friends.”
Holub also believes “if the employees are having fun, the customers see that and it reflects.”
As for the future, Holub and Reed will be asking customers for feedback to see what they want and then make improvements.