Mindy Green is the often unseen, “Wizard,” the woman behind the curtain at the Highlands restaurant that bears her husband’s name, “Wolfgang’s.”
The Greens opened Wolfgang’s 26 years ago and it’s been a great adventure ever since.
“Wolfgang always wanted to own his own place and it was his background that got us into this,” Green said on the front porch of she and her husband’s Main Street bistro.
Green is a Longhorn, a graduate of the University of Texas with a Bachelor’s in Marketing, a Dallas native. She calls Highlands, “a unique place,” in comparison to where was born and raised.
“Starting a business in Dallas as a woman was hard,” she said.
“We used to come to Highlands years ago,” she said. “We love Highlands and Wolfgang wanted to get into business for himself.”
The Greens bought the old Hildegard’s building on Main Street and went to work expanding it and making it their own. “What was previously called Hildegard’s was up for sale and they worked with us on financing it. We were here one month after signing the contract with them.”
Green said they lived above the restaurant the first two years, which was hard to get used-to.
“We expanded the building when we started… and then we built the pavilion, the covered deck and then, the bistro,” Green said.
Often being the silent partner, Wolfgang handled all the cooking while Mindy took care of the marketing and everything else.
“The restaurant business is very, very hard and most people will tell you that,” Green said. “Their biggest obstacle is staffing up here… But you work hard and it’s a very satisfying adventure. It’s been a fun ride.”
Mother to daughter Kate, now 28, whose birthday coincidentally, fell on Halloween. During that time living above the restaurant, her daughter enjoyed, “The biggest birthday party of everybody I’ve ever known. The restaurant was part of her life, the first 13 years we had so many people coming to the party, her birthday cake was like a wedding cake.”
The restaurant’s early days didn’t afford much privacy.
“We’d be at home upstairs and people would just come and knock on the door all the time, so we never had our own space, which was hard to get used to,” Green said.
Raising a child and working at the restaurant was her biggest personal obstacle.
“Getting the restaurant up and running… was my biggest obstacle back then.”
While COVID-19 impacted her business just like everyone else’s – it cost Wolfgang’s the majority of its rehearsal dinner business due to the size of the dinner parties – but business during the pandemic was great.
“COVID-19 totally redesigned our business,” Green said. “There were so many different things we had to put in. It was like starting over on a lot of this, because your procedures, staffing… everything changed. You have to take temperatures when people come in. I had to do throw away menus every day. Our staff had to wear masks. We had to clean and de-sanitize everything.”
But everyone showed up when Wolfgang’s opened its doors this summer.
“We had great business,” she said in regard to weathering the pandemic, “There are no complaints.”
To those women following her path and contemplating embarking on that great adventure, she asks, “Why not?’
“Chase your dreams. Fulfill your dreams. Don’t let them stop. I think that’s a big part of it,” Green said… Also, “Don’t be afraid. You’ve got to make your dreams come true… you’ve got to take the initiative. It’s a lot of determination, a lot of hard work, you’re going to work a lot of long hours, but it’s very satisfying.”
Having to pick her favorite dish at Wolfgang’s was a no-brainer.
“Short ribs,” she said. “Wolfgang does a fantastic job with them. They come with collard greens and mashed potatoes… it’s a comfort food.”
“We need comfort.”