Perhaps the oldest of all restaurant mantras is to treat your customers as if they were family. But for Candice and Mustafa Ilgin, spouses and owners of Toledo’s Glendale Garden Cafe, that philosophy extends beyond rhetoric and into action. For over two decades, they have hosted their customers like family— and, they explain, their clientele has reciprocated.
Candice was already a fixture at the restaurant when she gave birth to the couple’s four children—quadruplets. “They were born three months early,” Candice said. “And we had people who would send gifts to the house, and would send me cards, always asking the servers, ‘How are the kids? Can we see the pictures?’ They were always there, and they became more like family.
“And now, my kids are working here, and so the kids are starting to develop a lot of the same relationships with customers that have watched them grow up, like part of our family.”
Of course, the familial atmosphere is only one of the things that brings the Glendale Garden Cafe’s customers back year after year. The food is another major component—a sprawling and diverse menu of offerings at any time of day, sure to satisfy the palate of any diner. It’s a bill of fare that has become standard since the Ilgins first took ownership of the Cafe 23 years ago.
After so many years at 2521 Glendale, however—and after the addition of a sister location, the Reynolds Garden Cafe, over a decade ago—the Cafe is about to make its biggest change yet. A change of location.
Oh, don’t worry, it’ll still be the Glendale Garden Cafe. The restaurant is just moving up the street, to the site of a former Ruby Tuesday’s. If all goes well, Candice said, they hope to be moved by early June.
“We’re going down there because we really have outgrown this and the building is beginning to show its age. It’s a lot of upkeep, and it’s hard for us to do a lot of the repairs and stay open. And we’ve looked at updating this [location], and it’s just financially more sound to move. We’d have to acquire more property, and we’d be shut down for a much longer period of time if we were to stay here and update this.”
A Glendale Cafe trademark is its remarkably comprehensive menu. From a mouth-watering selection of appetizers and salads to over 30 different kinds of sandwiches— and that doesn’t even include the wraps— a beefy (pardon the pun) variety of steak, seafood, Chinese food, pasta, chicken, ribs and on and on. And we haven’t even mentioned breakfast yet.
“If you’re looking for breakfast, it would be our Hungry Man Breakfast combo,” Candice said. “We have our country omelette, we sell a lot of those. Our sandwiches, we have our clubs—just fly out of here—our Reubens, people come just for the Rubens. All of our soups are homemade, so that’s a big draw.
“Dinner-wise, we have such a wide variety of items to choose from, it’s hard to just pick one thing for dinner.”
The owners are also planning to freshen up their surroundings with the move. “We’re going to try and keep it very fresh-feeling. Again, a garden theme. All of the photography on the walls is from Northwest Ohio, and all of the pictures were taken by my kids. So we’re trying to keep the neighborhood feel, but freshening it up a little bit.”
The bottom line
“We certainly hope that their first time in, they’ll feel welcome. That they’ll be greeted at the door with a smile,” Candice said of visitors to the Cafe’s new surroundings.
“I hope they will take time to go through the menu and see how extensive it is, because we do have a lot to offer. A lot of times, people kinda get stuck trying the same things, and that’s why we’re excited about our new menu coming up, too— we have some new items, and we’ll have some new specials to kind of give our real regulars something a little different to choose from.”
2521 Glendale Ave | 419-382-1011 | ggardencafe.com