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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Rise and Shine

Fans of homestyle cooking are crowing over The Rooster’s Den

The Rooster’s Den takes pride in serving hearty breakfasts and lunches that taste like they could have been prepared fresh in your own family’s kitchen.

That’s the goal owners Jennifer Hettenbach and Jason Campbell set two years ago when they opened at Highways 66 and 261 in Newburgh, Indiana. Together for a decade, the former Castle High School students always have loved cooking. Hettenbach held a variety of customer service jobs, and Campbell worked in the restaurant industry and still owns a lawn care company, Affordable Landscape and Mowing.

The couple often spoke of owning a restaurant, motivated by memories of dishes their grandparents and great-grandparents handed down to them. “It was something always in the back of our minds, but we had to wait for everything to align,” Hettenbach says.

They set up shop inside what had been a Burger King at 3988 Haley Drive. Befitting its name, The Rooster’s Den’s breakfast is a big hit, and one of the most-ordered early morning items — biscuits and gravy — is made Jennifer’s and Jason’s own way.

“That is straight from my great-grandma,” Hettenbach says. “She taught me how to make it. It’s so funny learning how to cook from that generation. There were no measurements. It was just all eye and taste.”

That same sausage gravy from Hettenbach’s great-grandma graces other delicacies at The Rooster’s Den, including the Loaded Haystack, which is a pair of biscuits topped with eggs and cheese. Another one to try is the Rowdy Rooster, which has bacon layered between a trio of hashbrown patties, topped with sausage gravy and shredded cheese, with a side of salsa.

Hettenbach says customers love the French toast, and her pancakes, which have several varieties (chocolate chip, tutti fruity, berrytastic, and Caribbean) in addition to the classic, are sweeter than at other restaurants.

“They’re big and fluffy,” she says.

More breakfast choices include Monte Cristo and BLTE (bacon, lettuce, tomato, and egg) sandwiches, omelets, burritos, platters with classic favorites, and a fruit and granola bowl.

And yes, drink options include breakfast cocktails – “all the fun stuff,” Hettenbach says.

As the clock moves to lunchtime, The Rooster’s Den’s popular soup and salad bar opens for business, “and we do daily lunch specials as well, ranging from our chicken pot pie to Salisbury steak to meatloaf,” Hettenbach says.

Lunch menu choices include classic sandwiches and a chicken strip basket. The Rooster’s Den makes seasoned potato chips in-house. Desserts? The Rooster’s Den has plenty of those too, although there isn’t a set dessert menu — ask what’s available when you visit. A couple of big cakes, including an Oreo-topped chocolate confection, sat on the restaurant’s bar when Evansville Living visited.

Not currently open for dinner, The Rooster’s Den does offer its facility for private events after hours, and Hettenbach and Campbell also have catered several functions off-site, such as wedding rehearsal dinners and Christmas parties. The Rooster’s Den can customize a menu for a specific event.

“We do big and small,” Hettenbach says. “We’ve catered for 20 people. We’ve catered for 300. So, nothing’s off-limits for us.”

The COVID-19 pandemic slowed Hettenbach’s and Campbell’s plans to open The Rooster’s Den, “but once we made the decision to go for it, within about six months we were up and running,” Hettenbach says.

The restaurant’s building, which bears no resemblance inside or out to the fast-food joint of its past life, is in a tricky location to navigate to, but Hettenbach says that after reaching it once, subsequent trips are simple.

Word is spreading — Hettenbach says she has greeted diners from communities across the region who are drawn to The Rooster’s Den’s homestyle, made-from-scratch style cooking.

“I think we have what people want,” she says.

PASS THE PLATE

roostersdennewburgh.com

 

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