INDEPENDENCE — The Independence Grill and Bar started out as a 9-year-old’s dream.
After 20 years of living that dream, Gregg Peterson is now stepping back as the owner of the Independence Grill and Bar.
“I stepped down from owning to just run the kitchen,” Peterson said. “My passion has been food; it was food that got me here.”
Now, Peterson is handing the reins to Jeaneen Greenberg. The two had met through the local Chase Bank that Greenberg managed.
“He came into the bank all the time and we became friends,” Greenberg recalled. “(We) used to joke about it. He told me one day I would own the restaurant, and I really believed him.”
Even as the local favorite changes hands, the Independence Grill and Bar wants to keep community and family at its core.
“We want to be out there when they do movies in the park and have food out there; that’s one of our visions we’re working on.”
With the help of her family, Greenberg has added a new addition to the historic, downtown Independence building to honor the veteran community.
“My biggest thing is the veterans’ room,” Greenberg said. Two large banquet tables dominate the room that is decorated in patriotic decor and veteran memorials.
“Both my grandfathers were military men, so that is what it is built around.”
She hopes that local veterans will bring in their photos to mount on the walls, and she plans to run events for the veteran community.
“We did a banquet for them (the Veterans of Foreign Wars) and we’re looking at doing the Marine Corps birthday here.”
The Independence Grill and Bar started out as a family restaurant, and Greenberg has no plans on changing that. She is running the restaurant with the help of her two daughters, niece, nephew and parents.
“I always talked about how I wanted to have a little restaurant that had kind of my family’s recipes,” Greenberg said. “I come from a family who owned their own businesses. My grandpa used to tell me I would be the one in this generation to own a business. I guess go big or go home,” she laughed.
As the head chef, Peterson has his own plans for the community.
“We are looking at introducing what we consider family-style dinners,” Peterson said. “On Easter, we’ll bring out a big ol’ plate of mash potatoes, a big ol’ plate of chicken, a big ol’ plate of vegetables, and a big ol’ bowl of salad, and the family serves themselves.”
Don’t worry if you don’t have a family to come with, Peterson reassured.
“If you don’t have a family and you just want to come have a family-style dinner, we’ll just seat you at a table with other people. You can sit and mingle with other people and meet and build relationships that way,” Peterson said with a smile.
As he he steps back from managing, he says he has gotten to live his dream. Peterson is excited to be more creative in the kitchen and create the same foods from scratch.
Now, Peterson says, “My dream is to transition (the restaurant) to this family, so this family can live their dream. They wanted to own their own bar and restaurant, now they get to live that on.”