VIENNA - A '50s diner with a modern spin.
That's how the managers and staff describe Steak and Shake, the newest restaurant to arrive in Wood County.
"I'm excited to be a part of it," said General Manager Brian Marshall. "It's a great opportunity and really a unique restaurant."
Photo by Mandi Cardosi
From left, Ashley Knight, Hunter Varndell, General Manager Brian Marshall, Weston McAfee and Hannah Rollins hold trays and stand in the back of the store on one of their last days of training in preparation for the store’s opening on Grand Central Avenue in Vienna.
Popular menu items include Frisco Melts (a patty melt with Swiss cheese and special Frisco sauce), the original steak burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes.
A team assembled from throughout the country helped for a few weeks to make sure operations would run smoothly for the grand opening Thursday on Grand Central Avenue at the mall. Residents were eager to try something new or visit the nearest one within an 80- to 90-mile radius. Other locations include St. Clairsville and Lancaster, Ohio.
The new restaurant offers a fast but casual experience, said Steak and Shake field trainer Margie Harner.
"This is a great opportunity for employees," she said.
Harner comes from Texas where she manages about 29 other restaurants and travels the country helping with store openings. She has been to Georgia and Colorado in the last few months.
Marshall graduated from Parkersburg High School and previously managed another local restaurant. He is eager to be a part of something new in his hometown.
"Everything is made fresh," he said. "It's good food served quickly."
Because the restaurant is new to residents, Marshall said he has stressed to his employees the importance of setting the bar high. He said he hired about 130 employees to begin operations.
"The biggest challenge for us is trying to impress everybody," he said. "We're setting the example for Steak and Shake (in the area)."
Harner estimated there will be no less than 50 cars in the parking lot for the first three days. Marshall said the restaurant is prepared for large crowds at Grand Central Avenue and the surrounding mall area.
Customers in Texas still ask Harner and her employees what a Frisco Melt is and try to order a steak dinner when they arrive, she said. The menu will contain the same popular items used in all Steak and Shakes across the country, but have a different look.
The hours in the beginning will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Marshall said the addition of breakfast will take place soon, after employees gain experience.
Harner said she was impressed with the community and the "small town" feel of the valley.
"That just doesn't happen in Texas," she said. "It's so big you just don't have the time (to get to know people)."
Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Steak and Shake Operations, Inc. owns and operates the 487 fast growing locations. About 400 are company-owned and another 100 are franchised. Many locations are 24 hours, but it is unlikely the one in the valley will be, Marshall said.
Locations include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Weston McAfee said working at the Vienna Steak and Shake will be his first job in the food industry. He previously worked in mechanic shops, among other trades, most recently being drawn to serving.
"I've never served before, but I'm liking it so far," he said about one week before the grand opening.
McAfee was among the employees tasting the food while training. He said he enjoyed the steak burgers.
Harner said eating the food at the restaurant never gets old.