By Sue Hughes | For The Times-Post
PENDLETON — Kirstin Phillips always knew that she wanted to open a restaurant.
She had a dream of creating a place that created an atmosphere where people could connect and feel welcome.
The time was right to get started in 2018, when she purchased the house at 118 N. Pendleton Ave., which she spent the next few years turning into Invited, a restaurant offering dine-in and takeout service.
“The house needed a lot of work — we opened up some doors and wanted to make sure all of the woodwork matched,” Phillips said. “We also wanted make sure we had the approval of historical society.”
The house previously had been a residence, a restaurant and a catering service.
Phillips, a longtime Pendleton resident, began the planning phase of the restaurant in 2019 and construction took place in 2020.
It opened for business in November.
The top of the menu includes 10 items featuring a tradition Belgian liege waffle as the base — such as the BAE, which is a waffle topped with bacon crumbles, avocado smash, eggs to order and cheese, and The Benedict, which is a waffle topped with ham, eggs and hollandaise sauce.
The inspiration for this part of the menu came to her while visiting Anna Maria Island in Florida.
“I actually found the liege waffle when I was on vacation,” she said, describing purchasing one from a vendor who was operating more of a stand than a restaurant. “When I experienced it, I thought it would be a perfect thing to bring back to our community.
“Then I started researching it — came up with the recipe.”
There’s a lot more than waffles on the menu, however.
There are salads and wraps; a coffee bar offering a variety of coffees, teas and other drinks served hot or over ice; baked goods such as cinnamon rolls, scones, cookies and muffins; and an a la carte section offering smaller food and drink items.
The main dishes range in price from $9 to $13, with drinks costing $1.75 to $4.25.
All of the food served is handmade in the restaurant. Coffee syrups and salad dressings are made from scratch. Baked goods and waffles are made daily.
She calls the restaurant “fast casual.”
It’s dine in or carry out, and in the case of the former, food is ordered at the walk-up counter and a server brings it to the table.
Invited is a “brunch and blessings” restaurant, Phillips said, where there is room around the table for everyone.
The restaurant has a vision and mission, found on its website: invitedtothetable.com.
“Invited strives to be a place where anyone can pull up a seat and be a part of the table,” the vision reads. “To be a place where one can share an experience of coffee, lattes, brunch, baked goods, blessings, community, and faith with those around them in a relaxed and open setting.”
“Our mission is first to serve you, and those around you, because you are our people. At Invited we value community and we make it our goal to deliver great food, memories, and blessings while you are here. We want to help you connect with the people around you, whether they are friends that are old, new, or are ones you haven’t even met.”
According to the website, the business will donate to charities, which will be featured online monthly.
Phillips said this is her first time running a restaurant.
“I have learned a lot”, she said.
Phillips calls herself a Jill of all trades.
Phillips had owned a dog breeding service for several years. She said it was the perfect job for a stay-at-home mom.
She also has a master’s degree in divinity.
She is married with eight children — four boys and four girls, ranging in age from 17-29.
She said having a large family, she was used to shopping and cooking for a crowd.
Phillips kept busy home-schooling her children.
As they have gotten older, the children have attended Liberty Christian and Pendleton Heights.
“My children are a big part of my life,” she said.
Her daughter, Adriene, 23, is working with her at the restaurant during a gap year.
Phillips has 10 employees, most of them part time.
She said all of her employees jump in and help with anything that needs to be done.
“They are awesome”, she added.
Invited is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.