Business Name: Lakeview Family Dining Restaurant
Location: 1219 National Road, Cambridge City, IN
- Accessibility- **** 1/2
- Performance/Reliability: - ****1/2
- Problem-Solving/Conflict Resolution: *****
- The Intangibles- *****
- Overall Experience- ****1/2
I’d long eyed Lakeview Family Dining Restaurant as a potential dining stop ever since spotting the place on my way to a weekend class at Bethany Theological Seminary. Lakeview sits smack dab right on U.S. 40 just as you enter Wayne County on the Eastern tip of Indiana. Unlike many inappropriately named restaurants, Lakeview does actually sit alongside a rather large lake that it shares with a few homes. It’s a beautiful setting, but the restaurant tends to keep country restaurant hours so it’s often been closed when I drive by it either going to or from Bethany.
I’m currently an interim pastor at a church in Hagerstown, Indiana, which also happens to be in Wayne County about an hour East of Indy. This has given me the opportunity to explore this part of the state a bit. Today, I joined a few of my congregants for a meal at Lakeview following our worship service.
Lakeview is a one-story free-standing restaurant with ample concrete surrounding it in addition to the previously mentioned lake. There are two designated parking spots for individuals with disabilities, however, both were taken upon my arrival. That said, I was easily able to find a spot that would allow me plenty of room to access my wheelchair. The entrance to Lakeview is a single glass door that brings you into a relatively narrow hallway/waiting area. While there was no waiting upon our arrival, there were several individuals/families waiting for a table by the time I left about an hour later.
So far, the experience is good but not particularly memorable. After all, designated parking spots and a fairly workable entry way are fairly common in contemporary restaurants. I’m unsure how long Lakeview has been around, though my lunch guests did tell me it was on its third owner and this owner had owned the place for several years. Regardless, Lakeview has the look and feel of a good ole’ fashioned country restaurant if not just a slight bit more upscale than usual.
Once I arrived at the hostess area, my impression of Lakeview began to rise dramatically.
As one of my fellow guests had gone in before me, they were already aware of my arrival and the hostess was instructing the server “table 24. Remove one chair.” In other words, rather than identify a “disabled customer” she simply made sure that the restaurant was addressing my need without making a big production of it.
Excellent. Actually, beyond impressive.
So, I arrived at my well situated table with ample room to move my wheelchair (The table was selected well). I would note that this area, if the restaurant was jam packed, could prove extremely challenging as Lakeview has certainly packed in as many tables as possible into their two distinct dining room areas. It’s a common practice meant to maximize profits, but it can prove challenging. In fact, I noticed that even servers on occasion had to wait for one another due to the narrowness of the aisle way. However, while the interior design is a bit of an obstacle (loss of 1/2 star) I do give Lakeview major credit for adapting to this challenge intelligently and with insight. The design actually reminded me of my horrid experience at Indy’s Some Guys Pizza. However, in this case, Lakeview handles the situation perfectly. As a side note, I was not the only diner in a wheelchair in the restaurant.
In addition to two diners with physical disabilities, I spotted one diner with an obvious developmental disability along with several elderly diners. I watched how all the staff/servers responded to these individuals, and was consistently impressed. Without exception, the servers established strong eye contact and were unquestionably willing to deal directly with all the individuals. The individual with developmental disabilities had marked physical gesturing that could have easily proved to be distracting, yet it wasn’t. A huge part of why it wasn’t was simply because the staff treated him with dignity and respect. He was comfortable in this restaurant and these servers were comfortable with him.The servers were friendly, smiling and interacted with customers even when they weren’t serving them (but not in an intrusive way).
There were five of us dining together. Orders were taken promptly, while those who ordered side salads had them arrive in a timely manner. In honor of my friend Rick Garrett, known as the Tenderloin Connoisseur, I decided to try the breaded tenderloin sandwich with fries and an unsweetened iced tea.
The meal? Darn near perfection. The breaded tenderloin was easily one of the best tenderloin sandwiches I’ve had, a moist and meaty that had texture without those occasional crisp spots that drive me absolutely crazy. The flavor wasn’t anything adventurous – simply a well made, well textured and generous sandwich that I found tremendously satisfying. The only weakness with the sandwich was with the bun, which struck me as a rather traditional oversized bun that crumbled a bit. I think a toasted bun would probably push this sandwich over the edge into bliss…I’m admittedly not a tenderloin expert like Rick Garrett, but I’ve visited several places renowned for their sandwich and left disappointed. This sandwich had me smiling and was generous enough in its portion that I could barely finish it.
The french fries were also sublime and generous. They certainly looked fresh cut, and they offered a unique flavor that left me smiling even more. The only slight disclaimer to note with the meal overall, other than my disappointment with the bun, is that Lakeview does limit drink refills. This is noted right on the menu, which is impressive, but on a hot day this can prove challenging as their glasses aren’t particularly generous anyway. Iced tea has a limit of two refills, soft drinks have a limit of one.
While I was a guest, meaning I didn’t pay the bill, I did note the prices and you can easily eat at Lakeview in the $10 range. They do have several more expensive meals of the fish/steak type variety, however, this is one restaurant where a family on a budget can do pretty well and have a good meal.
The cashier is located on your way out of the restaurant in an area that is also easily wheelchair accessible with no high counter. I did not check out the restrooms during this visit, but simply noted that they do offer men’s and women’s restrooms down a hallway off the dining area. They are certainly accessible by wheelchair.
I’ve always noted that for me good service can trump price or even the occasional physical obstacle. What happens when you get fantastic service, terrific food and a decent price all with the benefit of sitting by a beautiful lake?
Maybe I should call this blog post “The Gimp Goes to Heaven.”