My wife and I dined at Cheddar's Casual Café last night in Coralville, Iowa. It was opening day for the popular chain that started in Arlington, Texas in 1979 with a modest goal — be a great restaurant that serves quality food fresh from the kitchen in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere at a fair price. We rate Cheddar's five stars in five categories. Here's why you should check this place out:
- The people who serve you. My first taste began with a phone call to see if the restaurant was open and Nick answered. I could feel his excitement from twenty miles away. "We don't take reservations," he said. "There's no wait right now but it will get busier later in the week when people find out we're open. If you come now we can seat you right away." General Manager, Sunny Rivers, visited our table during our meal and introduced himself. He may be new in the state of Iowa, however, he's no stranger to Cheddar's. He's an expert at opening new stores. His team put the new staff through one week of intensive training before he opened the doors on Monday at 3:00 PM. I can't say enough about the staff. Summer was our food server. She was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the menu. Another manager, Jenny, also visited during dessert to make sure our experience was a good one. Five stars for the staff. ✮✮✮✮✮
- The ambiance. This place has an incredible aura. An over-sized aquarium lines one of the walls near the entrance and a unique ceiling fan hangs from above the center of the dining room. The dim lighting makes your table extra cozy. Five stars for all the attention to detail. ✮✮✮✮✮
- The food. Everything is made from scratch. I ate the Rib-eye with sides of broccoli smothered in cheese and a baked potato. My wife feasted on salmon with mashed potatoes and green beans. We enjoyed Texas margaritas and split a monster cookie with two scoops of ice cream on top for dessert. Five stars for the chef. ✮✮✮✮✮
- The prices. No sticker shock here. Our dinner bill was just under $40 including the margaritas; my wife went home with enough left-overs for lunch today. Five stars for the fabulous prices that won't break the bank. ✮✮✮✮✮
- The bonus offers. Summer asked us if we would be willing to complete an on-line survey about our experience. She had no clue I'm a writer and that I secretly planned to share my experience on today's blog. "If you complete the survey, you will be entered to win free Cheddar's for a year." My wife's face lit up when she heard about the prize. I couldn't resist the opportunity to eat at Cheddar's for a year. At the end of the survey I was asked if I would like to be notified of special offers and I accepted. This morning I received my first coupon for free chips and queso on our next visit. Five stars for the online bonus offers. ✮✮✮✮✮
Have you ever eaten at Cheddar's? If so, please add to the conversation in the comments section below.