The Glenwood is a Eugene staple, encompassing the city’s unique laid back and artistic style. When dining at either of its two locations, customers know they may encounter a long line out the door.
“I would recommend The Glenwood because of the great food, reasonable prices and the great staff,” said Destiny Henderson, a Eugene resident for 21 years.
The Glenwood first opened its doors in the 1970s and was originally owned by a local couple. It was then purchased by Jacqui Willey. She moved its South Eugene location and two years later opened another restaurant on the University of Oregon’s campus. She has been Glenwood’s owner for over 35 years.Currently, both Glenwood restaurants are run by Willey and her son.
The Glenwood has a reputation for its breakfast, but its menu ranges from burgers to vegetarian alternatives, with many meals under $10. Its large portions and affordable prices make this place a favorite.
“I’ve been a customer here for years and I’ve never had an order messed up and I’ve never had bad service,” said Henderson.
According to the National Restaurant Association, one in ten working Americans work in restaurants and restaurants employ 170,100 people in Oregon. The restaurant industry was worth over $600 billion in 2011 and is estimated to continue to grow. Statistics show that Americans love to dine out, however nearly 90 percent of restaurants close down within their first two years.
Edson Clements, Willey’s son and business partner, knows keeping Glenwood going isn’t easy. Although his restaurant has a loyal following of customers, he believes their success is due to the environment they provide.
“We want to be a place where families can eat. You’re not going to find televisions and hard alcohol here,” said Clements.
Some customers say it’s Clements himself who makes Glenwood special.
“Edson is so sweet. He loves the restaurant. He makes sure that every time you walk into the doors, you are having a good experience. Besides the yummy food, it’s a person like him that keeps me coming back,” said Henderson.
Clements can provide a unique aspect on the restaurant business, but his personal story is even more fascinating.
“I’m part of this restaurant because I really like to serve and it comes natural for me. Since I’m deaf, some things can be hard but I was raised doing this so it is easy,” said Clements.
His lip-reading skills and warm smile help him connect with customers, many never knowing that he has a disability. "I don't think anyone knows that he has hearing problems. Edson is such a professional and is so great with customers, I don't think anyone has time to even notice," said Henderson.
Clements started off working at The Glenwood as a dishwasher in middle school and moved his way up to hosting and then serving. After high school he continued to work for his mother and kept working throughout college. “I finally realized that The Glenwood was what I wanted to do with my life,” said Clements.
Clements wanted to make sure he could be the best in the restaurant business, not just in a restaurant he grew up in. So he moved to Portland and took on different restaurant jobs. He cooked and managed a few different places, but Clements knew where his heart belonged.
“I was offered an assistant manager position at night at our Willamette location. I did that for two years and then was promoted to the campus head manager position,” he said. Clements says what he wants most is for his restaurant to inspire others and to be a positive force in Eugene.
“The Glenwood has been a blessing to our family and we try to be special to everyone that comes in... not just to our customers, but to the world,” he said.
Each year The Glenwood donates a home to a family in need, usually from the local community. Last year they were able to help a family in Haiti and this year they are looking to help a family in South America.
“Although money is a motivation to anyone’s success in the restaurant business, there is so much more to it for us,” said Clements. Clements believes his restaurant will continue to be a success. He already dreams of where the restaurant will be in ten years and wants to reach out to people who have never tried The Glenwood before.
“I think if people want a real genuine nice place that’s local they should give us a try. Plus our tomato cheese soup is pretty awesome,” said Clements.