A local restaurant that has been a fixture on L. Rogers Wells Boulevard in the Ford Centre for more than a decade will be changing its name plus part of its menu soon.
Owners Wayne and Linda Jones, of Louisville, opened the Tumbleweed franchise at its current location in Glasgow in 1999. Glenn Sheehan, the restaurant’s general manager, joined the business a year later in 2000.
Although they have worked well with the franchise chain in the past, Sheehan said it was time to change direction with the restaurant because of the lack of flexibility they had in dealing with a tougher economy and added local competition.
“We had a good 10-year run with Tumbleweed, however, their menu expansion and marketing philosophies have differed from ours. Our Glasgow team is committed to offering the best food and service possible and that was no longer possible as a Tumbleweed franchisee,” he said.
At the beginning of August, Tumbleweed will become G’s, a new concept developed for Glasgow, and Sheehan will become the chief operating partner of the restaurant.
“We will open Aug. 1 officially as G’s. We plan right now to have regular business Friday the 29th, close at closing time and not re-open that weekend until Monday,” Sheehan said.
G’s will still feature steaks, ribs and chicken, but will introduce authentic Cajun cuisine to Glasgow. Cajun is one of the fastest growing segments of the restaurant industry, according to Sheehan.
“We have a good enough operation – by adding the Cajun side – we have something in town that no one else has,” he said.
The restaurant has already added five Cajun items to its menu, Bourbon Street Chicken, Voodoo Chicken, Drunken Chicken, Shrimp Etouffee and Bumblebee Stew. The number of Cajun dishes offered will be expanded with the name change in August.
Sheehan thinks they have found a niche for this type of food in southcentral Kentucky.
“Nobody around here is doing Cajun ... that we know of – south of Louisville, in Bowling Green or north of Nashville,” he said.
The layout of the restaurant won’t change much, but there will be minor adjustments to the decor, which will feature more of a New Orleans, Mardis Gras-style atmosphere.
But patrons will still be able to recognize many of their favorite things in the restaurant and on the menu.
“Tumbleweed’s not really going away. I can’t say Tumbleweed (anymore), but what they’ve grown accustomed to – the service and the quality of food are not going to change. It’ll be different, but the quality will remain the same,” Sheehan said. “We don’t want to change it entirely. It’s not going to be just a Cajun restaurant. We’re going to maintain a good portion of the food that people are accustomed to with Tumbleweed. We obviously have to change some of the sauces and garnishes a little bit, but we’ve found some that are close. I think they’re actually better.”
Along with the other changes, customers should be pleased to find out that prices for drinks and food will also be reduced. Menu items will be value-priced and drink prices will also be lower than Tumbleweed’s, according to a press release from the owners.
Sheehan said with the opening of other restaurants in town such as Gondolier and Applebee’s, the restaurant couldn’t compete with the prices Tumbleweed charged.
“(Other restaurants) were undercutting us price-wise,” he said.
Another advantage to serving Cajun food is that it is quick to prepare, unlike some of Tumbleweed’s current menu items such as steaks. The restaurant has been losing lunch business because people don’t have the time at midday to wait for the food to be cooked, according to Sheehan.
“The five Cajun items on the menu now – it takes 10 minutes to prepare the food. It’s hot and simple,” he said.
Sheehan has been trying to add innovative ideas to the restaurant for some time now. For Valentine’s Day, they launched a “2 for $20” promotion that the whole Tumbleweed chain has since adopted, he said.
“We are excited about the G’s concept and plan to use it as a prototype test restaurant with an eye to further expansion. Who knows this may be the first of a 100-unit chain. If that happens I promise the corporate office will be in Glasgow,” Sheehan said.