Restaurateurs branch out with new Lemon Tree Grill
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent February 15, 2013 5:30PM
Lisa and David Wodrich are the owners and operators of the Lemon Tree Mediterranean Grill in Chesterton, Ind. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
At a glance
◆ Lemon Tree Mediterranean
Grill, 356 Indian Boundary
◆ More information: 926-8733,
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:12AM
It may seem bold that Lisa and David Wodrich started Lemon Tree Mediterranean Grill with the economy in the initial stages of growth, but then they made their first restaurant — Third Coast Spice Café — a success during the recession.
So opening on Dec. 4 during the holiday season was rough, but the Porter residents saw their chance when the Chesterton building that once held a Subway shop opened up.
“I saw the ‘for lease’ sign and just stopped and called Lisa,” David said.
That decisive thinking made them restaurateurs after he worked as an upscale chef across the country and she as a wholesale baker.
“Life is short, and you have to do what you want to do,” Lisa said. “You don’t grow if you don’t jump.”
People will see similarities (including shared employees) between Third Coast and Lemon Tree: both cook from scratch using Wodrich recipes with as fresh and natural ingredients as possible.
Because their son Ethan, 10, has egg allergies and daughter Abby, 7, received a transplanted kidney from David, the Wodrichs make sure they have gluten-free and vegan options for customers who have special diets and may not normally eat out.
“It’s not health food necessarily, but it’s healthful food,” she said.
Where Third Coast is a breakfast, sandwich and fusion place where the menu has evolved since July 2008 to beat the recession, Lemon Tree’s Mediterranean menu includes beef kabob, chicken shawarma, falafel and grilled veggies.
“I wanted to do something that was quick, good food,” David said.
It’s the sandwich place they wanted to have, and “this is my favorite kind of food,” said Lisa, who once worked for a Turkish restaurant in Michigan City.
They opened about a tenth of a mile away from Third Coast because they have roots in it — she grew up in Chesterton and he, a Porter town councilman, in Valparaiso — and because they believe in the Duneland community that has supported them since 2008.
The Wodriches plan to franchise one of their restaurants in the next few years, and David said Lemon Tree is the likely choice. Its smaller, simpler menu and sunny yellow décor have an upscale chain feel.
“This is an easy enough formula to duplicate,” Lisa said.