— By BRIAN SMITH
For nearly nine years now, Whistle Hill Café, 104 S. Walnut Street, has been focusing on the lunch needs of Parker County residents.
Owners Ryder White, his wife Leslie, and brother D’Lancer have all worked in the restaurant business for many years, Ryder as a former training chef for Olive Garden. Ryder takes pride in knowing his restaurant isn’t cookie cutter and corporate.
“Some folks want to ear corporate and that’s fine, but our menu is definitely more eclectic,” Ryder said. “It’s hard to compete with corporate, I know, I used to work corporate but we’re still here.”
Ryder previously operated the Out-To-Lunch Tea Room on Oak Street in what was a 100-year-old house. After working there since 1994, the trio went their separate ways for a few years before coming back together to start Whistle Hill, which the couple’s three sons named for being close to the railroad tracks and the restaurant overlooking the area from atop a hill.
Many of their customers followed them over from their previous haunt. Each member of the trio has their focus; Ryder handling the kitchen area, the hiring and dealing with the purveyors. Leslie handles more of the front of the house aspect with D’Lancer, who waits tables and focuses on desserts,
All of D’Lancer’s desserts are made in house, as is all the food. Another aspect that separates Whistle Hill from its competitors, which have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, is the fact repeat customers keep coming back for more of the service.
“We really take the time to bond with our customers,” Ryder White said. “We’ve built a relationship with them and it’s one of the reasons we’re still here, despite being open primarily for lunch.”
Ryder said many of their customers come in three or four days a week and will have the exact same thing every time. That helps them develop plates named for certain customers. Being able to tell the kitchen staff they need a “Paula’s plate” and them know exactly what to prepare shows the bond the restaurant has with many of the customers.
Even if the customer doesn’t have a certain plate, they are treated like family from day one. Along with the choose three plate, which has a variety of quiches, salads and the like personally combined for the individual, Ryder said the blackened chicken spinach salad and the sandwiches on nutbread are the “most addicting.”
“I’d say we personally know the names of half of our customers,” Ryder White said. “One of our greatest strengths is our customer service. D’Lancer is tremendous out there.”
The Whites have also built their customer base through social media. Every day, the special of the day is sent out to Facebook followers along with a soup and quiche of the day.
“People know by that when we’re having their favorite soup or special, so they’ll come on in,” White said. “It’s definitely been a way to increase business.”
On and off-site catering is offered along with party hosting. Whistle Hill Café is open at 11 a.m. every day and normally closes mid-afternoon but stays open Fridays until 8 p.m. For more information on Whistle Hill, visit them on Facebook.