The Friends restaurant of legend has reopened on April 15 in Enterprise at 111 W. Main St.
Breeann and Dustin Gladden decided to re-start the tradition — both in name and atmosphere — largely in honor of Breeann Gladden’s late father, who took over as owner about a year after Gladden’s grandmother initially opened the original establishment, making Gladden’s a third generation installment.
Gladden isn’t some starry-eyed lady with an off-the-cuff pipe dream. She’s spent her share of time in the trenches working for her grandparents as well as several other local restaurants, including Glacier Grill, Wallowa Lake Lodge and served as kitchen manager for East Fork Brewery in Joseph before it closed.
“I’ve thought about this for a very long time — at least 10 years, I’d say,” Gladden said.
The couple started working on getting the restaurant into shape in November of 2018. It was hard work.
On the wall at the end of the bar hangs a purple sign with the word, “Friends gather here.”
“It’s a gift from my mother-in-law,” she said. “It says, ‘Friends,’ of course I’m going to put it in the restaurant!”
The menu features photos of the food cooked in house, rather than stock photos from online.
Although Dustin Gladden helped with the initial opening of the restaurant, he recently returned to his profession as a painter for Plenty of Paint. Breeann Gladden will handle most of the cooking duties.
In a time honored tradition, Sunday’s fare includes “Grandpa’s pan-fried chicken,” concocted from a recipe of Gladden’s grandfather, which is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, dinner rolls and a super salad.
Friends is open six days a week and closed on Wednesdays. The restaurant is open from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. The soup is always “Grandma’s chicken and homemade noodle.”
“I made homemade noodles for the first time last week, and they turned out pretty good,” Gladden said with a smile. “I was pretty proud.”
In the future, Gladden says she hopes to have a liquor license, maybe by this summer, although the hours would stay the same for the time being.
“Hopefully, in a year, we can think about doing evening dinners and things like that. Right now it would be too much for me.”
One feature that Gladden is proud of is the idea of a workman’s lunch. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays., the restaurant will have a sandwich special and anyone can come in off the street and say they’d like the workman’s lunch. The staff then alerts the kitchen and by the time the customer has gotten their chips and drink their meal should be ready.
“That’s our goal,” she said. The idea came from her husband. Workers often have only a half-hour lunch and no time to wait for food. “It’s not as quick as when we get the flow of it, but we’re starting it right now so we can get used to it.”
The owner said she wants the public to know that the fare is coming from the old Friends restaurant. It has many of the same menu items and recipes
“My grandma and grandpa came here a day or two before we opened and gave me all the recipes for everything,” she said with some measure of pride.
The menu items are almost exclusively homemade and includes such staples as hand-breaded chicken fried steaks, homemade corned-beef hash or eggs benedict.
Gladden has four to five part-time employees while she is the main cook as well as the boss. She is also doing all the training.
“I’m the one you’ll see at 5 a.m. — for right now,” she said with a smile.