Having opened less then 2 weeks ago, we went into Arni's new Greenwood location with low expectations. Not being a fan of the chain bar & grill's, FLO was prepared to be underwhelmed. Although still a chain, technically, Arni's is an Indiana-only organization based out of Lafayette and operating since 1965.
Problem #1. Location. They chose a very remote area on US135 where a previous Damon's had already perished. If you don't live south of Smith Valley, you'd never know it's there. With as many other open commercial spaces available in town, we hope the rent is darned near free. Not to mention Applebee's & O'Charley's are a mere 1/4 mile away and in better locations. Being as anti-chain as we are, we hope they can overcome.
But all is not lost, as Arni's provides people with good reason to look down the road from the "TGI-McFunster" mediocrity. (Thank you, Mr. Bourdain)
While the interior design is obviously still a work-in-progress (some lighting non-functional and all walls bare), the layout is sensible. They provide a good-sized entry, followed by a large front dining area with fireplace, a central bar & a large family dining area in the rear. It is obvious, even though they have a comfortable looking bar room, that this is a family-centric establishment.
Unfortunately, we noticed areas that lacked working lighting were still being utilized for guests. Not a smart first impression for those diners. On a better note, we observed that each server had been given a pager. A smart way, presumably, for the kitchen to communicate with the wait staff. Why is this not done elsewhere?
But we digress. It's about the food, right?! The menu is quite extensive. Appetizers, burgers, pizzas, pastas, wraps, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Nothing out of the ordinary, but something for everyone. Fred was worried he was in for a sub-par evening.
Libby was hopeful, considering it's roots. Ozzy's carb levels were low.
Upon searching, seemingly in vain, for something different, Fred stumbled upon the Chipotle Shrimp & Bacon tacos. They proved to be a super-spicy explosion! No McFunsters here! One criticism. Instead of a ranch dressing side, how about sour cream or blue cheese? The ranch didn't complement an otherwise incredibly flavorful dish. The accompanying caesar salad, while nothing to write home about, was tasty.
With the sign's proclamation of "Pizza and Stuff ", Libby opted for the pizza. While we find that restaurants usually can only do either the Pizza or the Stuff adequately, we needed a balanced perspective. Although there is an extensive ingredient list and some interesting specialty pizzas, Libby decided to go with a base pepperoni pizza. What makes this pizza a little different is that they are a thin crust and the pepperoni is diced. Not to it's detriment, Libby was initially reminded of Totinos. A huge fan of the spiced beef, or "monkey meat" Totinos, this offered an excellent dining out alternative. The crust, although thin, still had a chewy texture, slight crisp, and a nice spice to the pepperoni. It was definitely greasy, as they did not skimp on the cheese either. If only they offered monkey meat...
Ok, so guess what? Ozzy got the Mac 'n Cheese (Kraft variety, per the menu). No comment. But the fries on the side were "good". After a weekend of not eating due to illness, we were happy to see the boy enjoying sustenance.
Price-$-$$, Very affordable.
Atmosphere-***, Assuming that the interior will be completed in due time.
Service-***, Fast. Although a generally young staff, they were very accommodating and well coordinated.
Fred -B, Variety is good. But not the SAME variety everyone else has, please....
Libby - B, Pizza wise, there's some serious competition in this city. A good pizza, but I'd like to sample more! The beer tap left something to be desired with Blue Moon as the only viable option.
Ozzy -B, Two bites of Kraft Mac and fries almost gone. Libby, "Is it good?". Ozzy, "Yeah."