Metro-east chiropractor Kevin Schmidt has gone into the restaurant business with a Grandpa Luke's Deli/Coffee House in Millstadt. Schmidt, a Belleville native, owns and operates Schmidt Chiropractic practices in Millstadt and Smithton and has been practicing for the past seven years. He recently invited business writer Will Buss to his restaurant at Millstadt Market Place to talk about his new business:
Q: Why did you open a restaurant?
A: "Economically, there's some changes happening in the health care industry directly affecting the pay of physicians, so that's why."
Q: Do you have any experience in this industry?
A: "No. No experience. It's pretty much just a different diversified means for income."
Q: What kind of restaurant is Grandpa Luke's?
A: "This is similar to an authentic East Coast deli. We slice and grill our food per order. We have a full functioning coffee bar as well, so it s almost two businesses in one. We have the first and only drive-through in town. Our bread is cooked fresh at Fazio's Bakery on The Hill daily and the doughnuts are from Ahne's Bakery in Waterloo. Everything else we buy direct. I find that buying direct increases quality and decreases cost, actually. I purchase the meats directly with my truck. It's higher-end, quality food."
Q: Who is Grandpa Luke?
A: "My son is Luke. There really is no grandpa. I put "Grandpa" in front of his name to give it a historical feel. But I wanted to be fair because my chiropractic practice is Dean Healthcare LLC (doing business as Schmidt Chiropractic), named after my other son, Dean. So I wanted to balance it out."
Q: How long have you been open?
A: "For about a month."
Q: What are your best sellers so far?
A: "If we're looking at the hot grilled sandwiches, we would go with the Lumberjack and that has bacon, ham, turkey, roast beef, salami and pepperoni and cheese. Our sandwiches are 8- and 16-inches long. We also have six other specialty breads from Fazio's. Like I've said, it's a full-functioning deli similar to what you'd see in an urban East Coast city. On the coffee side, the Caramel Silk is our No. 1 seller as far as drinks go."
Q: You have decorated your dining room with a wall of historic photos of Millstadt. Where did they come from?
A: "What I did was I purchased the last 13 years of photos from the historical society calendar that they put out each year and then we blew up the clearest photos. They're all pretty much 100-plus-year-old photos."
Q: Why did you do that?
A: "I think it's important for people to know their own history, no matter where you're at."
Q: What have you enjoyed most about running your own restaurant?
A: "Watching the entire process of food going from wholesale to the plate."
Q: What goals do you have for this business?
A: "I would just like it to be a successful restaurant and provide the people of Millstadt with a different option."
Name: Kevin Schmidt
Job: Owner, Grandpa Luke's Deli/Coffee House @ 741 W. Washington St. in Millstadt (618-471-6168)
Outlook: "I'm just trying to provide a high quality product at an affordable price."
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.