Best Locally Owned Businesses in St Joseph - Fredrick Inn Steakhouse
Do you love our locally owned businesses in St Joseph?
Then you'll love the conversation Lorrie, our team leader, recently had with her friend, Amber McKnight, who owns the Fredrick Inn Steakhouse.
They discussed the history of the Fredrick Inn, some of the delicious dishes they serve, the amazing people who work at the Fredrick Inn, and Amber’s personal journey in the restaurant industry.
Lorrie: Thanks for joining us!
Amber: No problem. Thanks for having me!
L: Today I’m talking with my friend, Amber. I’m sure that most of you know about the Fredrick Inn Steakhouse, which is a staple in our community.
But for those of you who are not familiar with Fredrick Inn, we want to open up your eyes to a locally owned restaurant in St Joseph that is fantastic!
So, Amber, tell us a little bit about the overall history of Fredrick Inn and where you came in.
History of the Fredrick Inn Steakhouse
A: It started in 1980 by Karen Harris (that was her last name at the time). It was named Fredrick Inn after her husband Fred and her brother Rick. Therefore, there is no “e” in Fredrick Inn unlike the street name: Frederick Street. That can be super confusing to everybody. But it’s a fun little piece of trivia!
Karen kept the restaurant up and going until 2015 when my husband, Jeffery, and I decided that we wanted to buy the Fredrick Inn. Here we are today still going strong!
L: It’s so amazing that you’ve been able to keep the whole clientele but yet you’ve updated the restaurant over time. You’ve done a fantastic job at that!
A: Thank you! It was important for us not to run off that clientele. So updating slowly was our main goal. We started on one side of the restaurant and changed it up a little bit. Then we slowly updated the rest of the place. Overall, I feel like we’ve kept most of the same clientele and gained a lot of new as well.
L: What were some of the updates and changes you did when you took over?
A: One of the first things we redid was the bar side. We repainted it and my husband, Jeffrey, made brand new booths–he made every booth over there.
We also redid the bar front. It had green carpet on the front of it. So we had to get rid of that! My husband also redid that.
Eventually, we took out the green carpet on the other side of the restaurant. We redid the hardwood floors, painted some walls, took some plates off the walls–just little updates here and there.
L: Yeah, and it looks amazing! What about the menu? Did that change?
A: The menu has changed slowly over time. We haven’t really lost any of the staples that were on there to begin with. All the staple stuff is still there. We’ve just slowly added some of our own taste and touch to it.
We’ve added things like grilled shrimp and our boomerang sandwich, which is a chicken sandwich with onion strings and a sweet and spicy sauce on top. So we’ve added little things like that to the menu, but overall we’ve kept it about the same.
L: What’s one of your favorite items?
A: Can I say strawberry pie?
A: Strawberry pie is my favorite! Most of the time, I’m the one who makes the strawberry pie here. We make all of our pies fresh daily. We make bread pudding, cobbler, and cakes too.
L: Wow! I didn’t even know that, and I come here all the time!
A: On Tuesdays, we do $2 Tuesdays where you can get any slice of pie all day long for $2 with the purchase of your entree.
L: Sounds like Tuesday is my day! What is your favorite non-dessert item?
A: Probably the grilled shrimp or steak. I mean, we’re a steakhouse! That’s what we’re most known for.
All of our entrees come with the salad bar, which is set up at 4 o’clock each day. Unfortunately you don’t get that at lunch, but at dinnertime we do have the salad bar that comes with every entree. We have prime rib every day, every night. We hand-cut all of our steaks. We hand-grind all of our own burger. So we’ve got lots of tasty stuff coming out of the kitchen!
The Fredrick Inn Team
L: Who is your longest employee?
A: Julia Barnes.
L: Tell us about Julia.
A: She was here even before it was Fredrick Inn, back when it was still the Carriage House. When it became the Fredrick Inn, Julia stuck around. Then when Karen went and I came, Julia still stuck around.
L: She’s our favorite waitress. So when anyone comes, ask for Julia!
Another thing they do around here, and I would encourage everyone to go check it out, are their TikToks. Tell us a little bit about how that got started.
A: I had a cook one day who brought a TikTok dance to me and she said, “We should do this! Everybody’s doing this!” So we did it!
That started our first video. Then somebody else suggested another song and then another.
It’s just something fun to do at work. It kind of livens the moods. Sometimes work can be really, really hectic. So the TikToks are just a fun way to regroup, bond together, and not take the night so seriously.
L: That’s a lot of fun, and they are fun videos to watch! So everyone should go check those out.
One last question: how did you get started in the restaurant business?
A: I started very young. I started at sixteen. On my sixteenth birthday, my mother came into my room, woke me up, and said, “Today, you’re getting a job!”
Carlos O'Kelly's was hiring at the time. You had to go into the East Hills Mall basement to fill out an application. I got hired there as a busser. I was a busser there for a couple years.
Then one day, we were really busy, and they asked me to serve. So I thought, Okay, we’re going to try this! I hopped in that night as a server and never went back to being a busser. I served for a couple more years there.
Then Robert Boudreau sought me out, and I went to work for him for thirteen years at Boudreaux's Louisiana Seafood & Steaks. I was a server there for the first three or four years. Then for the rest of my time, I became a manager. I managed there until he passed away.
I was actually going to leave the restaurant business completely. I have a finance degree, so I thought it was time to do something with my degree. I went to Il Lazzarone pizzeria across the street from Fredrick Inn and started talking to their owner. He said, “You should buy the Fredrick Inn Steakhouse!”
At the time, I didn’t even know the Fredrick Inn was for sale. So we came over here and talked to Karen, and here we are today!
L: That’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing your story.
Supporting Local Businesses
I want everyone to know that Amber is the greatest. She makes everyone feel like they’re her best friend. So come visit Amber and all the fantastic staff at Fredrick Inn!
If you’d like to learn more about the Fredrick Inn Steakhouse, one of the best locally owned businesses in St Joseph, visit their website by clicking here.
Thank you for supporting our local community!