Comfort food … With a conscience

The eclectic North Limestone Street corridor just added an interesting culinary destination to its mix with the recent opening of Doodles Restaurant at the corner of Third Street and North Limestone Street across from the Atomic CafÈ. This breakfast and lunch restaurant is the creation of owners Lynda Hoff Mellin and Susan Harkins and its menu draws inspiration from New Orleans and other sources. Further enhancing the business concept is the emphasis on “local” and “organic,” as much as possible. The journey to the new business is not a single story but the interweaving of several stories and events.

The building itself has been around for decades, having been a gas station and then, for years, a neighborhood liquor store named Doodles, owned by local businessman Mr. “Doodles” Welch. Mellin’s husband Tim, who has a passion and reputation for preserving buildings, was able to acquire the property in 1997. The Mellins opened Atomic CafÈ on January 19, 1992 and sold the business in 2003 to Bill Riddle. The Doodles property was, and will continue to be, used for Atomic CafÈ parking, as Atomic is an evening only business. Doodles restaurant is a breakfast, lunch and special event concept; hence a cooperative parking arrangement was possible.

Doodles owners Mellin and Harkin have know each other for over 20 years. In the 1980s, they were involved in the KET Sybarite fundraising events. Additionally, when the Mellins owned Atomic CafÈ, Harkin worked for Ace Magazine, which at the time was located next to the Atomic CafÈ, leading to many inevitable run-ins. With their new venture, Mellin and Harkin are able to combine their backgrounds to develop their business concept. In addition to her experience co-owning Atomic Cafe, Mellin holds a degree in fine art from UK and has been involved in the gourmet food business. This brings operational expertise and a culinary flair to the business. Harkin is a farmer and agricultural activist focusing on alternative agricultural diversity. She has been involved in the production of organic produce and is one of the pioneers of Kentucky in shrimp aquaculture, selling her shrimp under the Bubba Sue’s Shrimp brand. She has served on the Kentucky Commission for Family Farms, Kentucky Agriculture Development Board, Partners for Family Farms, and the Kentucky Aquaculture Association. Their Doodles venture, which was over four years in the planning and development, combined their talents for this end product. One of their research trips was to New Orleans where they visited many restaurants and cafes that focused on breakfast and lunch.

One element of their concept and business model was to make their restaurant a “green restaurant” to the extent that was possible and practical, and many hours were spent assessing possibilities. Instead of scrapping the building, they recycled it by remodeling. As much as possible they use local organic food and do business with local and Kentucky companies, which helps to reduce the “carbon footprint” of their products and their business overall. Their carry-out packaging is “eco-friendly” and 100% compostable. If you pay close attention to their clear drink cups, you’ll notice a green band near the bottom with the words “Made From Corn.” They also serve Organic Fair Trade Coffee.

The restaurant is cozy, with 51 seats inside and up to thirty on their patio. They have a beer and wine license and plan to make it available for special events and functions. They are closed on Saturday’s and open 7:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday – – Friday and 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sundays. They have also developed a great team to execute the concept. The restaurant is co-managed by Lillie Ruschell Hoskins and William ( Bill ) Glascock and is further staffed with able chefs Jess McClanahan and Brian Ferrell.

The breakfast menu includes beignets (traditional New Orleans pastry), stratta of the day (egg casserole), johnny cakes, shrimp and grits, huevos rancheros, oatmeal brulee, breakfast parfait, and traditional favorites such as eggs, bacon, sausage and breakfast sandwiches. Bubba Sue’s Yummy Honey is also available. The lunch menu includes soups, po-boy sandwiches, all-beef franks and salads. Side dishes include doodle flat fries, cole slaw and mixed greens.

Doodles not only provides a new option for breakfast or lunch, but further adds to the evolving richness of the greater North Limestone and Third Street area. After less than two weeks in business, the business has its own group on Facebook with nearly two hundred members.

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