There are a lot of things Angie Waller does at the Corner Pub in Odell, but there’s one thing she won’t do: microwave a hamburger.
Waller is the new owner at the Corner Pub, a restaurant and bar that’s been an Odell staple for decades. She took over the business back in September when the previous owner, Dave Anderson, stepped down.
Waller has been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years, and she’s always willing to try new things. She just brought back the lunch menu to the Corner Pub, and for the first time in its history, they’re serving breakfast.
Though breakfast is only served on Sunday mornings from 9 until 10:30, adding the meal was what her customers wanted, and they’re continuing to show up.
Right now, breakfast includes the basics—biscuits and gravy, pancakes and English muffins—but it’s only Waller in on Sunday mornings, so she takes care of the cooking, serving and cleaning up.
“It's getting there,” Waller said. “The place has never served breakfast, and it's been so long since they served lunches that it just takes time. Other than that, business is doing very well.”
For lunch and dinner services, the Corner really gets down to business. They aim to make as many things as they can from scratch, Waller said, and they’ve got a remarkable menu for a place with only four employees.
The Corner has the standard dinner baskets with chicken and fish that can be served as either strips or in a sandwich, and customers can also order shrimp, a BLT or a Philly cheesesteak, and all of them come with a choice of sides, including fries, Tater Tots, onion rings, cottage cheese, salad, corn, mozzarella sticks, cheese balls, cauliflower and jalapenos poppers.
“Typically, I try to have home-cooked meals for my specials,” she said. “Hot beef and real mashed potatoes. I don't serve instant potatoes.”
You can also get a pizza hot from the oven and they’ve even got a pretty substantial vegan menu with two kinds of veggie burgers, vegan chicken sandwiches and strips, and vegan cheese can be added to all of those items.
Then there’s the hamburgers. Not having a grill made burgers a bit of a challenge, but Waller got creative.
“I got it set in my mind that we were not having microwaved hamburgers. Period,” she said. “We were having real hamburgers, so I use a George Foreman, skillets, roasters. We make it work.”
For the bar crowd, she added beef fries, gizzards and livers to go along with the beer and liquor they offer.
The Corner Pub also provides some entertainment with a foosball table and a jukebox, and on special occasions, live music. For the kids, there’s an activity corner full of crayons and coloring pages.
The doors open every night—except for Monday night when they’re closed—at 4 p.m., when people start trickling in after work.
“It kind of goes in phases,” Waller said. “You know, you get your 4 o'clock crowd for happy hour that turns into your dinner crowd, which is pretty family-oriented.”
Though these are the slower months, she’s expecting things to start picking up once tax returns start coming in.
Once the doors open, they stay pretty busy all night, she said. They do have a closing time of 10 p.m. posted on the door, but a lot of times, that’s only a suggestion.
“If I have people in here, I'm not going to kick them out,” she said. Unless it's 2 in the morning. Then, as business permits, at least until midnight on the weekends. Again, if we have people in here, we don't kick them out.”
Waller also has her catering license for both food and liquor, which she’s hoping to put to good use soon. They’ve made big orders for Christmas parties and they’ve made food for school events. This summer, they’re planning on catering a wedding, which she said she’s looking forward to.
They’ve got a tradition that’s only just getting off the ground, Waller said. When you walk in and look at the crossbeam in the middle of the restaurant, there are a dozen or so dollar bills tacked up with people’s name written on them in Sharpie. Waller's son, who is in the Navy, saw a bar in Florida that did something similar and tacked up a bill at his mother's place.
The Corner has regulars who have been coming for years, as well as new customers who stop in all the time for a beer and a burger, but Waller said she couldn’t have asked for a better place to run a business.
“Odell is such an amazing community,” she said. “I can't say enough about it. The community has supported me absolutely beyond my wildest imagination.”