Decades of Great Food & Family Service on Main Street Carmel
Writer / Lisa Mitchell
Food Photgraphy / Pete Thompson
Building Photgraphy / Wendy Waveney
I don’t have a favorite dish, and if I did, I wouldn’t tell you,” says Woodys Library Restaurant owner Kevin Rider about Woodys Library’s vast and varied menu.
Why the hesitation to name a favorite? Rider maintains that once you get known as the best place to get one specific thing, everyone starts to associate you with only that dish, and you’re less likely to be the restaurant of choice when in the mood for something else.
With a menu that includes everything from traditional bar food to comfort food to fine dining selections, Woodys has too much to offer to be defined by a single menu item. He wants people to know that regardless of what they are in the mood for at any particular time, even if everyone wants something different, they’ll all find what they are looking for at Woodys Library Restaurant.
The building that houses Woodys has a long and storied history on Carmel’s Main Street. It served as the community’s library from 1914 to 1970 before the becoming City Hall for a period of time. Rider then converted the historic building into Woodys Library Restaurant in 1998. The bar and kitchen opened in May, 1998, followed by the restaurant in July of the same year.
“When we decided to open Woodys, one of the biggest challenges at the time was getting people to stay in Carmel to eat as opposed to going to the Keystone area or to Downtown Indianapolis, Rider said. “Being located in such an interesting and historic building had people curious to come in and see what it was all about. Once they experienced the menu and great service, the loyalty came.”
Loyalty is part of what makes Woodys Library Restaurant so successful. Not just the loyalty of the longtime customers, but also the loyalty of the staff, which helps create the family-like atmosphere experienced by those who walk in the doors. The average tenure for employees at Woodys is 11 years, which, in the service industry, is almost unheard of.
What’s the secret to having such loyal employees?
“God put me in the restaurant business,” Rider explained. “I am supposed to teach people something and I am supposed to learn something from everyone. That’s especially true for the Woody’s family.”
While he has rules for his employees, he also has one simple rule he expects his customers to follow, as well: Treat his employees with respect. No exceptions. Rider says he supports and backs up his employees no matter what, and he’s not afraid to step in and deal with unruly or disrespectful customers in the name of defending his staff. His staff knows this, and in turn, they want to stay.
Kevin and his wife, Richelle, also own Divvy restaurant in Carmel’s City Center. While the concepts and menus of the two restaurants are quite different, the common denominator is the couple’s desire to create a great dining experience and serve amazing food. Both restaurants recently added expanded outdoor seating areas that can be used nearly throughout the year. The additional outdoor dining space has been a great success for Woodys Library Restaurant, allowing diners to take in the bustling Carmel Main Street energy while enjoying their meals.
Adding the enhanced multi-season outdoor seating area made sense, Rider said, both from a dining experience perspective and a business revenue perspective. He says that the additional space has piqued the curiosity of those who have never dined there and has spurred regulars to visit more frequently.
As for what’s next for Woodys Library Restaurant, Rider simply says, “If you’re not changing, you’re dying.”
He and Richelle travel frequently looking for new food trends and ways to continue to delight their customers. I, for one, am excited to see what comes next.
For more information visit www.woodyscarmel.com or call 317-573-4444.