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Taking Care of Business: Grandview has served favorites for more … – Galesburg Register |

Taking Care of Business: Grandview has served favorites for more … – Galesburg Register

GALESBURG — Business, like many other things in life, often starts out small.


When Dawn Barlow first started working at the Grandview Restaurant, she was assigned the humble task of buttering toast on Sunday mornings. She was only 13, but she knew in her heart that one day she would be the one running the family restaurant started by her grandmother and great-aunt years ago.

Barlow was right: She now owns the 65-year-old restaurant on Grand Avenue, which continues to serve up longtime customer favorites like steakburgers, hot beef plates and breakfast skillets.

Read on as Barlow dishes on how the restaurant has changed over the years, her early memories of the Grandview, and her advice to other businesses on standing the test of time.

RM: How did the Grandview get started — it’s always been your family’s business, right?

DB: To my knowledge, Grandma and Great-Aunt Gladys were both working for Meadowgold for quite a few years. They had expressed interest to the owner that they wanted to start a restaurant. They had been saving money for years for the property and the building. It is my understanding they never took out a loan. The owner helped them in many ways by finding contacts for equipment, tables, chairs — basically anything they needed to get it running.

RM: When did you get involved in the restaurant, and how did it become your career?

DB: I was 13 years old when I started working there. I was to butter toast on Sunday mornings for my grandma. They were so busy (that customers) would be lined up outside along and around the windows. The Lord told me at 13 years old that I was to run this when I was older. Time went on and it went to my parents, Richard and Lorinda Barlow. They retired and handed it down to Duane Barlow and me. Duane has since retired.

RM: What do you enjoy about your work?

DB: The customers and knowing them for generations, from great-grandparents down to the toddlers. Today many have come and gone, but their families still patronize us, which leaves a warm spot in my heart. We have made good friends with many of the customers through the years.

RM: The Grandview has been around for more than 65 years. How has it changed and grown in that time?

DB: Yes, it has changed. It was a smaller building in the beginning. The large dining area was added on when my Uncle Leroy Markham came back from the Navy and started helping with managing the restaurant. I believe he had some input in this.

RM: What is the Grandview best known for in town — is it a certain dish, the friendly staff, the location?

DB: The steakburgers were always the first original draw, but I believe our open-faced hot beef and our breakfast skillets are also a large part of our success, along with the fact that we have had a great staff from the very beginning. Some of my grandma and great-aunt’s waitresses were friends who had stayed with them for many, many years. As the different generations took over, it seemed it has stayed the same and we have always been thankful for the great help we have had running this. Their loyalty and dedication are part of what keeps it going. For example, some of our staff have been here 14, nine, seven, six and five years.

RM: What is the most popular item on the menu? And, what is your personal favorite?

DB: I would always want to say the steakburgers because that’s what sets us apart from most any other restaurant. We do have a lot of open-faced hot beefs with real mashed potatoes. Tenderloins and skillets are good sellers. My favorites are the cheeseburgers and the Southern skillets — you just can’t go wrong!

RM: Tell us about your staff — do you have a lot of longtime employees? Are any of your family members still involved in the business?

DB: As I mentioned before, we have long-standing relationships with our employees over the many generations. Although there is a lot of turnover in the restaurant business, we have had employees that have stayed with us for 14, nine, seven, six, five years at a time. I have a daughter, Jessica, who has worked there for 21 years.

RM: What is the key to the restaurant’s success for so many years?

DB: Providing good food with the same recipes at reasonable prices, building friendships over the years with our customers, and of course a great staff.

RM: What is something a lot of people don’t know about the Grandview?

DB: In the very beginning we had a gravel lot and my great-grandfather, Clifford Lawrence, would come out every morning in his pickup truck and drag the lot with a rake-like device he had behind his truck. Also, my Uncle Leroy Markham, along with his cousin, Laverne Markham, would open a Christmas tree stand for many years off the back lot.

RM: What’s next for the Grandview — any new projects or recipes in the works?

DB: I would say we have been mostly successful by keeping it simple and trying to provide the best meals and service possible. So with that being said, changes are not something that come easy.

RM: What is your advice to other businesses on standing the test of time like the Grandview has?

DB: Work hard — sometimes you have to put in a lot of hours. Be kind and fair to your customers, and make sure the product you are selling is something you believe in.

RM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

DB: I would just like to take the time to thank everyone throughout the generations who has been kind enough to patronize us. My Grandma Evelyn Markham and my Great-Aunt Gladys Lawrence, I believe they would be very proud that their little family restaurant they built is still serving the same families all these years later. A special thanks to my right-hand lady and friend Lori Guel for managing the restaurant for me the last several years.

Robyn Gautschy: (309) 343-7181, ext. 265; rgautschy@register-mail.com

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