Monday, April 30, 2018

Under new management!

The famed Pink Poodle Steakhouse in Crescent, Iowa, that is.

I went there yesterday for this month's Great Plains Ragtime Society "meeting+music," and found out that the new owner is a man named Joe McNeil.

And Joe's presence at Crescent's legendary eatery keeps things all in the family.

Joe's mom, Doreen (formerly a food server there), bought the steakhouse in 2003 after its previous owner, Mary Jo Paulison, passed away. 

From 1973 to 1985, the Pink Poodle was a husband-and-wife venture: Mary Jo married Art Paulison (the man who teamed up with a business partner in 1966 to buy the place) in ' years or so after she herself became a food server at the Poodle. In 1971, Mary Jo inherited some money and used the loot to buy out Art's partner...only to see the place burn down a month later (January 1972).

What was left was a Art and Mary Jo remodeled it into apartments for a place they could live. Then, a year later, the newly-married couple took out a small business loan to rebuild the restaurant (this time, around some arches Art bought after the 1975 Omaha tornado knocked down that city's Prom Townhouse and left that eatery's arches available). 

Then in 1985, Art's death left Mary Jo in complete charge of one of the most interesting places to eat here in the Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue area. 

And now, Doreen's battles with Parkinson's Disease have left the steakhouse in Joe's hands.  

Now...what makes this restaurant (which actually opened in 1955 as Pede's, renamed the Black Glove a few years later, and finally, in 1964, rechristened the Pink Poodle) so interesting?

First of all, there's the doll collection.

Lots and lots of dolls, starting with one from the 1860s; the majority of figures come from the 1900-39 period. Mary Jo didn't dig dolls when she was a child, but she sure grew up to be an avid collector of 'em...and she specialized in collecting Dionne quintuplet dolls. 

Second...can you name another restaurant in these United States that features three working antique upright player pianos?

The Poodle has, from left to right, a 1919 Gulbransen,
a 1913 Bellmann,
and a 1916 Ricca and Son.
(Maybe you've seen these three pianos played on YouTube.) 

Last, but certainly not can't knock the food.

I like the Pink Poodle's spaghetti-and-meatballs dinner, its chicken dinners, and the eatery's ground sirloin dinner (I had that yesterday). Can't beat the "adult soup and salad" dinner, either. 

But the Poodle's real calling card is its prime rib...Omaha Magazine's Number One choice in 2004.

And this Crescent landmark's got a very, very friendly staff. 

If you'd like to see what Hannah, Joe, Jolene, Kolton, and Co. are up to (and if your appetite screams out for prime rib or anything else on the restaurant's menu), just come out to 633 Old Lincoln Hwy., Crescent, IA 51526. 

The restaurant's closed on Mondays, but it's open 5:00-9:00 PM Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5:00-10:00 PM Fridays and Saturdays, and 12:00 Noon-9:00 PM on Sundays. (You can go online to or call 712 545-3744 to place a reservation...or just come on over.)

And if you like old-time piano, just come over to the Pink Poodle at 2:00 PM on the last Sunday of each month...except in December (when GPRS gets together on the second Sunday). And in May and November, there's no GPRS meeting at all. (Check to make sure.)

See you at the Poodle!