Breakfast — the homemade way — has always been big in Lindsey Lenane’s home.
Growing up in Quincy, Illinois, her mother worked full-time, but still found time to cook piles of bacon and eggs each morning.
Over the years, whether Lenane was working full-time as a nurse or waitress, Lenane made a point to serve up morning feasts for her husband of 12 years, Josh Brown, and their six children, now ages 10-21.
“Everybody loves her cooking,” Brown said. “It’s like my grandma used to make and her grandma used to make. It feels like a real home-cooked meal.”
Now, Lenane and Brown, both 40, are keeping that tradition going beyond their family table.
The couple opened Breakfast at Berries in LeClaire on Feb. 7.
And Lenane and Brown say the breakfast-only eatery is already filling a void in the small community, where they have lived for over 10 years.
“LeClaire just didn’t have anything for breakfast,” Lenane said. “And that’s my specialty.”
A dream come to life
Lenane had previously floated the idea of opening her own restaurant, but didn’t take it seriously until her parents both passed away within the last three years.
“My mom and dad always told me this is something I would be good at and something I should do,” she said. “When they passed, I thought, ‘Well, life is really short.’”
When Lenane and Brown learned about a vacant spot in the Eagle Ridge Road shopping center, which also houses a Slagle’s Food Pride and Subway restaurant, “it was like a godsend,” Brown said.
“It was the perfect location for us,” Lenane said, noting that she hopes to attract travelers stopping through from nearby Interstate 80. “When this space came open, we figured we should go for it.”
And Brown, a network engineer, was quick to say, “Yes, we’re doing it.”
“I wanted to make her dream come to life,” he said.
During a three-month stretch of construction to the 2,100-square-foot space, passersby would pop in to ask about the progress and what kind of restaurant it was going to be.
When Lenane told visitors her plans to serve “non frou-frou” breakfast staples, they would say, “We can’t wait.”
For as long as Lenane has lived in LeClaire, her family’s breakfast options were limited to McDonald’s, or, about 11 miles down Highway 67, the Village Inn in Bettendorf.
In the weeks since opening day, Lenane said customers have shared excitement that there’s “finally a place for a family to go out for breakfast,” she said.
“I wish I had a dollar for everyone who has said that to me,” she said.
On and off the menu
Inside Breakfast at Berries, which is named after Lenane’s family nickname, the menu and atmosphere have the feeling of a big family table.
“I wanted it to be somewhere you’d want to meet your best friend to have a cup of coffee and breakfast,” Lenane said. “Or your mom or your whole family.”
On the menu, you’ll find “real normal stuff,” Lenane said, such as omelettes, steak and eggs, pancakes and french toast and biscuits and gravy. There’s also a breakfast burrito coined “Southern LeClaire” and a “Kitchen Sink” plate that’s piled with ham, scrambled eggs, hash browns, Swiss cheese and vegetables topped with gravy.
The eggs come from a farmer in Preston, Iowa, and, during the spring and summer, Lenane plans to pick up produce from the Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport.
Lenane picked out much of the furniture and decor inside the restaurant from secondhand stores. The tables and chairs and tableware don’t match. She and her daughter also painted the artwork on the walls.
Marge Pentland, a LeClaire resident who tried out Breakfast at Berries for the first time last week, said she felt right at home.
“I hope I’ve cooked my last breakfast for myself,” she said. “I’ll be coming here every day.”