If you’re looking for home cooked meals and friendly faces in Pleasant City, Dolan’s Chill and Grill is the place to go.
For owner Donna Dolan there were several factors that influenced her decision to open the restaurant, including the desire to start a new project and the love she has for Pleasant City and its people.
At the height of the recession in 2008, Dolan needed a new business for herself after her antique store and mini golf course had closed. Dolan still wanted to be her own boss.
She found inspiration from a well known businesswoman; Martha Stewart. In one of Stewart’s books, she advised that all businesses should focus their energy to one task: “find a need and do it.”
Dolan found that “need” in the heart of town. “This drive-thru had been up for sale for a while, and I told my husband, ‘If it’s still for sale in the spring, I’m buying it,’” Dolan says.
She was determined to do right by the town, and her patience paid off. Dolan’s Chill and Grill has been open between the months of March and September for the last eight years.
The Grill has been a place to foster growth and community for many years. Members of the community enjoy coming to the restaurant. On Facebook, families have shared photos of children happily eating ice cream and photos of friends reuniting for annual reunions. People come from all over for the famous chicken salad, hamburgers, fries and ice cream treats.
Dolan insists that consistency rather than creativity is what keeps her customers coming back. “I make food here as if I’m making food for my own family,” Dolan says.
“I’ve never had a bad meal here,” Bill Allender says. “You won’t find a better place to eat.”
Allender personally prefers Donna Dolan’s favorite: a classic hamburger with fries. Like the hamburger, many of the dishes at Dolan’s Chill and Grill are family recipes handed down by three generations.
“When you run a small business like this, you have to treat your customers right,” she says.
The end of the season is bittersweet. Dolan does not set a concrete closing date because she hates to say goodbye to her friends. Instead, she looks forward to spring and what the new season will bring. Now, going on season nine in March, Dolan still cannot believe that she has run the Chill and Grill for so long.
“Originally, this started as something I could fix up and give to the town,” Dolan says. “Be here for a couple of years and then someone would continue it. I never thought I would fall in love with it.”