Breakfast of Champions

On a Tuesday night in February, Renee and José Jimenez quietly opened Nellie’s Restaurant in Newburgh, Indiana, without any announcement. The next day, the restaurant was bombarded by eager customers lined out the door and starved for a taste of the town’s newest spot.

The restaurant has remained popular since its opening earlier this year, serving home-style favorites like chicken and waffles, French toast, breakfast skillets, breaded tenderloin, pork chops, and rib-eye steaks.

Customers visiting the restaurant located on the corner of Bell Road and the Lloyd Expressway during non-peak hours still will find a full parking lot outside and a flurry of diners and staff inside. While Nellie’s currently opens only 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, customers are clamoring for evening hours.

“Everybody wants us to be open for dinner. Everyone,” says Renee. “Every day I get another email or message to be open for dinner.”

Renee and José say they eventually will start opening in the evenings, maybe beginning just a few days a week. They have been careful, however, not to burn themselves out too quickly. The couple has five kids, ranging in age from 1 to 21; the older children have helped in the family business. The restaurant is named for their 16-year-old daughter, who helps on weekends.

The family has been in the area for seven years, moving down from Chicago to help open a restaurant on the East Side. They later moved on and decided to open their own place after hearing from multiple residents that Newburgh needed a sit-down breakfast spot.

“I’ve always worked in restaurants, so it was something we both wanted to do,” says Renee. “For Newburgh, I felt like they needed something, and it’s working.”

With the success of Nellie’s, Renee and José already are looking at other business options. They plan to open a small authentic Mexican grocery and restaurant in Newburgh, offering Mexican goods not found in American groceries and food items like tortas and tacos. The couple also says Nellie’s might expand into Evansville sometime in the future.

To Renee and José, however, everything they do is about providing good food and good service to the community.

“This is what we were trying to accomplish,” says José. “If you can give people good food, why would you slow down?

For more information on Nellie’s Restaurant, call 812-629-2142 or visit

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