FOREST CITY — Fine dining has returned to The Lodge Hotel and Restaurant.

"I want to have fun with it," new executive chef Joshua Hayes said of plating elaborate dishes. "I want people to go out and feel like it's fine dining."

Though Hayes was quick to point out that as a chef, he has a more cool and laid-back approach.

"It's upscale casual with fine dining food," he said of The Lodge's restaurant, located inside the hotel. The restaurant portion reopened Friday now that renovations in the lobby, dining room and bar areas are complete. 

Owners Peter Yang and his wife, Shari, took over The Lodge Hotel and Restaurant in July. Hayes was recently hired as the restaurant's executive chef.

"It's exciting for me to make their vision come true and bring my expertise in," Hayes said of the Yangs.

Hayes recently served as a chef at a French-American restaurant in Kansas City. He recently came back to the area to visit his mom in Clear Lake. He saw the chef opening at the Lodge and his mom encouraged him to send in a resume. 

Within a couple days, he had moved back to Clear Lake.

Hayes will bring "old-style French food with an American twist" to the Lodge's menu. Though when pressed as to his favorite style of food to cook, he answered, "What are you hungry for?"

His favorite type of food to cook for himself is Southern-style Creole.

"It's the spice of life," he said.

Creole won't be on the menu, but Hayes said it is still "a little bit eclectic." 

A number of meat and potato items will also be featured as Hayes gets used to what local customers are looking for.

He plans to switch the menu up three to four times a year.

"I want to change it with the seasons and the freshness" of local items available, Hayes said. He plans to cook with local ingredients as much as possible.

"Everything is made fresh," he said, including his hand-made pastas. 

Lunch and dinner will be served Monday through Saturday. A limited menu will also be served at the updated bar. 

"I want you to come, spend a moderate amount of money and feel full and happy after coming out here," he said.

The restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, with dinner service 5:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday. 

The bar will be open from 4 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

Allison Ullmann is a reporter for the Forest City Summit, another Lee Enterprises newspaper. 

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