:: Pink Poodle History ::
When Mary Jo says the staff is family she means it literally as well as figuratively. Her mother Ina Bernhardt lives next door and helps at the restaurant. Her brother James Flenhold is kitchen manager and head cook. The other cooks are Dan Ryan and Karlean Saar.
"But everyone who works here is a friend," she said. "I live in an apartment at the rear of the building, and it's comforting to know friends are just a few steps away. After art's death, they really helped me keep the place going."
Besides the food and service, the Pink Poodle is probably best known for the doll collection displayed there. Mary Jo is an avid doll collector and displays most of them in sealed and alarmed cases. "I was not a doll lover as a child. Art gave me my first antique doll as a christmas gift, and I got very interested in them," she said.
Her oldest doll is Civil War era. But most are from the early 1900's and are German and French bisque dolls. She occasionally adds a modern doll to the collection. "But only because the kids who come in always ask where the Cabbage Patch or Barbies are," she said.
Her particular interest is in Dionne quintuplet dolls. The Dionne quints were girls born in Ontario, Canada in 1934 and were the first quints known to live more than a few hours. She belongs to a club and receives a newsletter about Dionne toys and dolls.
Does the doll collection bring more children to the restaurant? "Actually moms and grandmothers are usually more interested," Mary Jo said. "But I'll talk dolls with anyone who comes in."
As to the future, the only expansion Mary Jo forsees is in her doll collection. "The business has exceeded my expectations," she said. "And I don't plan any changes. In fact, I hate change. I always have to be convinced to try new things. And I plan to stay in Crescent. I am invested in this town both professionally and personally."
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On St. Patrick's Day in 2003, tragedy struck the Pink Poodle. This tragedy was the death of Mary Jo. The Pink Poodle was bought by Doreen McNeil and is being maintained in loving memory of Mary Jo. Doreen McNeil has been a member of the staff that has run the Pink Poodle since 1983.