Abby’s Breakfast and Lunch owner Rob Mondi appreciates the accolades his establishment has accumulated since opening in 2015, but Mondi especially appreciates the competitive nature of the downtown St. Charles dining scene.
“After two years, customers are trying other places, they’re trying different things,” Mondi says. “Which is fine, but if you want to stay the best and you want to keep their attention, you’ve got to add more things.”
The restaurant, located at 11 N. Third St., is staying at the top of its game by adding 30 new dishes to its menu. The new dishes are available this month, and whether diners wish to eat in, carry out, or host a private party, Abby’s can accommodate.
Abby’s started with the basics, which proved to be not so elementary to Mondi, until recently. Many customers who entered the restaurant during its lunch hours – from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. – often were surprised to find no burger options on the menu, he says.
The menu’s burger omission cost him several tables over the years, but he and his chefs ensure a savory burger experience going forward, he says.
Also new to the sandwich scene is the Monte Cristo – ham, turkey and melted Swiss cheese packed between French toast– and a spicy grilled cheese sandwich.
Mondi recommends pairing the grilled cheese sandwich with Abby’s Bloody Mary soup, which adds a zing to the traditional tomato soup taste. The restaurant also makes the soup recipe available to customers in case they want to recreate the experience at home.
“I think it’s just neat, and it’s different,” Mondi says. “Everybody has chicken noodle.”
The bloody mary soup was the lynchpin Aug. 1 during the first of a series of Tuesday evening open houses showcasing some of the restaurant’s new offerings. All Mondi asked in return for the open house tasting was that patrons provide their email addresses for a follow-up survey.
As a 1987 St. Charles High School graduate, who recalls fondly the Tri-Cities dining scene of his youth and young adulthood, Mondi decided to use customers’ palates for some of the menu overhaul.
“Some of the things, based on their response, they might not ever see again,” Mondi says. “Other things, we may add more salt, more sugar, more Nerds in the kids pancakes.”
Yes, that familiar tangy candy can be part of the pancake batter. Adults, though, may opt for the slightly more grown-up tastes found in the Kona Coffee pancakes or RumChata French toast.
“And the nice part is, if you’re honest with people and you ask them, then they’ll tell you what they want, and then you give it to them,” Mondi says.
The perks don’t stop there. When Mondi caught the end of an inquisitive conversation between a mother and her two young sons during one open house, he instinctively offered the “two future chefs” a tour of the kitchen.
Other menu additions include stuffed Reuben balls and quinoa beet salad with red wine vinegar. For the heart- and health-conscious diner, Abby’s offers a new, 10-grain oatmeal among other things.
“We’re just trying to meet the needs of everybody,” Mondi says.
Abby’s Breakfast and Lunch
11 N. 3rd St., St. Charles