Friday, January 01, 2010

Spreading their Wings

It's a family affair at The Bluebird Bakery & Grill

Business owner. Cook. Baker. Wedding cake designer. Registered nurse. Mom. Grandma.

Lori Greene brings new meaning to the expression, "She wears a lot of hats."

"It's crazy sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way," said Greene, who runs The Bluebird Bakery & Grill at Downtown Moneta along with five members of her family.

"She's the ultimate multi-tasker," said daughter-in-law Angela Greene, who helps in the bakery during the day and tends bar at the restaurant in the evening. "She preps and cooks; then she goes home and does her job there, takes care of her kids. She's incredible."

Lori Greene, who also works full time handling workers' compensation claims for Boeing, opened the establishment in July 2009 after relocating to Smith Mountain Lake from south Florida in 2001. The Greenes had visited family in Roanoke, made a side trip to SML and fell in love with the area.

"We were looking for the easy, quiet life," said Greene, whose life is anything but. In addition to her work responsibilities, she and husband Jonathan, a financial advisor for SunTrust who handles the fiscal part of the restaurant, have fostered more than 50 children in their 21-year marriage, including two they adopted - Emilee (6) and Nanci (4).

The couple's older children are an integral part of the Bluebird's daily operations. Sons Ryan (25) and Justin (21) handle cooking for the restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week. Daughter Ashlie (23) manages the bakery.

Angela Greene said the bakery has been busy since opening, but many customers don't realize the Bluebird is a full-service restaurant.

"We see a lot of repeat business once they know we serve lunch and dinner," she said.

The menu includes primarily American cuisine with appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers and entrees. Lori Greene said all items are made from scratch, including the mini sliders ($5.99 for four) topped with applewood smoked bacon and cheddar cheese, the meatloaf ($9.99) made from her mother's recipe, and the spaghetti with meat sauce ($7.99 for a small plate; $9.99 for large), another family specialty.

Ryan and Justin Greene, who both worked as chefs in Miami, have put their culinary touch on several menu items, including the popular chicken wings (order extra crispy or extra wet), which are offered with 15 different sauces the brothers have developed. At the bar, 15 varieties of beer are available to wash them down.

 Lori Greene said the restaurant was designed with families in mind. On Saturdays, she said customers come in to watch sports on the restaurant's eight flat-screen TVs, one of which is equipped with a Wii game system for the kids to play. A kids' menu includes such favorites as chicken tenders for $4.99 and ribs for $5.25.

In the cozy bakery, bench seating and a few tables welcome customers looking for a cup of coffee or specialty drink, including frapuccino, latte, espresso, iced coffee, hot chocolate and hot or cold tea ($1.49-$2.09). Fresh-baked bagels, donuts, muffins, scones and croissants are also available ($1.50-$2.50 each).

If you're hungrier, order from the breakfast menu, which includes traditional favorites such as bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits and gravy, pancakes and French toast. Or try the Moon Over Miami, a breakfast panini with ham, egg and cheese, served with a side of hash browns for $6.99.

The bakery is also where the Bluebird showcases its large selection of desserts (made from scratch in the upstairs pastry kitchen) including cookies, brownies and cupcakes as well as specialty cakes, pies and cheesecakes, available whole ($13.50-$34.99) or by the slice ($2.89-$4.99). A variety of freshly baked breads from On the Rise Bakery in Roanoke are also sold for between $3 and $4.50.

Lori Greene said the restaurant is trying to be conscious about both the environment and helping the local community. The coffee is made from beans certified by Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit organization whose mission is to protect ecosystems and provide good working conditions and fair wages to those who work in coffee growing regions of the world. Unsold bakery items are donated to Lake Christian Ministries three days a week.

Lori Greene said she's also been busy making wedding and specialty cakes. Brides can make an appointment with her to view a cake portfolio and sample different flavors. In addition, the Bluebird offers catering services, will deliver to area businesses and can accommodate small group meetings, parties and receptions.

The Bluebird Bakery & Grill is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call 540.597.8406 or log on to bluebirdbakeryandgrill.net.