Updated: Mar 22
By Abigail Stopka, Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance
Sharness Dowdy is the proud owner of The Nite Owl located at 992 Kenmore Blvd. Open since 2021, the restaurant has become known as a Kenmore gem - specializing in food for the soul.
After working the graveyard shift for over six years, Sharness was inspired to open The Nite Owl when she noticed there were no restaurants open late to serve night shift workers like herself.
As a Kenmore resident, Sharness loves the many youth sports programs offered in the community and enjoys supporting her 9 year old son Jakhilan, who is a member of the Kenmore Youth Basketball and Football teams.
“Youth programs help kids engage in positive activities with other kids and it teaches them mentorship, team building and they can have fun while learning a new sport,” Sharness explained.
We sat down with Sharness to learn more about what inspired her to open The Nite Owl, and what she loves most about being not only a Kenmore resident but also a business owner on Kenmore Boulevard.
What Inspired you to Open The Nite Owl?
I worked at Akron General Clinic Hospital late at night and there were never any good food options open that late. From that point I decided that I wanted to change that, so I started planning my own restaurant. Planning this restaurant involved a lot of work. There was a lot of research involved in opening the restaurant, the logistics of running it, down to things like planning the menu. I used to cater for my friends' businesses and that really inspired me to kick start this journey. I started out by selling only cheesecake and it really took flight from there.
Where did the name”The Nite Owl” come from?
It really comes down to the fact that I am just that, a Nite Owl. Which is why I always worked late shifts. Since I know the problems people who work late nights face when it comes to food options, I decided that I really wanted my restaurant to cater to them.
What Inspired you to make The Nite Owl a comfort / soul food restaurant?
I wanted the food I cooked for my restaurant to be the same food I would make at home and feed my family with, that’s what makes it special to me.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
I really love cooking all kinds of food so this is a tough question to answer. I would have to say that my favorite dish to cook is the Alfredo because I get to use my artistic culinary skills and I can make it look pretty.
Do you offer any specials during the week?
Yes, we have multiple specials throughout the week.
Tuesday: Cheeseburger and fries for $5.
Wednesday: Six piece wings and fries for $9.
Thursday: Buy any trio and receive $1 off your order.
Friday: Fish and fries for $10.
How did you learn to cook?
I learned to cook from my great grandmother and my grandmother. I have many memories of being very young and standing on the chair in front of our stove helping them cook. The first thing I ever learned to cook was skillet fried corn and baked chicken.
What is the most popular item on the menu?
The most popular item on our menu is hands down our rollies. The best way to explain our rollies is comparing them to an egg roll with a non-traditional filling. We have so many different types of rollies. The flavors we offer for our regular rollies are chicken bacon ranch, cheeseburger, philly cheesesteak and chicken philly. We also offer deluxe rollies which are cheeseburger mac, firecracker chicken and rice, BBQ chicken and rice and our soul rollie. You can get them with a side of boom boom sauce to really complete the taste.
Our rollies are a huge hit!
Are you planning on adding anything new to your menu?
Yes, we are planning on doing something new for the summer. I want to add some lighter food items to the menu. I have this really delicious salmon salad that I am excited to make!
As a Kenmore resident, what do you love most about Kenmore?
I love seeing all the new businesses opening up on Kenmore BLVD. I keep seeing vacant buildings turn into businesses and it feels really good. It feels like Kenmore is coming back to life.
What is the most rewarding part of managing The Nite Owl?
The most rewarding part of managing The Nite Owl is seeing all my hard work come to life and just being here and being able to be a part of it. Owners of large corporations don’t have the opportunity to really be a part of their restaurants. I love being a small business owner and being able to really contribute to my business. I get to do a mix of everything. I really love being here and being in the kitchen.
What is the biggest challenge you've had to overcome with The Nite Owl?
The biggest challenge was definitely the life curve that the pandemic threw at us and everyone. It has been very hard to get people to work for me and inflation forced us to raise our prices which hasn’t sat well with a few of our customers, it is hard for them to understand why we have to raise our prices.
Tell us about a time when a customer made you feel like a million bucks.
One of my regular customers stopped by the store the other day and he always buys the banana pudding but this time he was praising it and asked me if I could make him a huge pan all for himself. It is such a good feeling seeing people enjoy my restaurant's food.
What do you find unique about Kenmore?
I think the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance really makes Kenmore unique. They help to bring a sense of community to Kenmore. They are always looking for new ways to uplift the community and are helping to bring it back to the way it was before and I think that is so great.
Is there anything else you would like for people to know about The Nite Owl?
I want people to know that we have been working really hard and we are just happy to serve the community.
The Nite Owl serves food for your soul Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. - 12 a.m. and Friday through Saturday from 4 p.m. - 2 a.m. from its location at 992 Kenmore Blvd. You can place your order through their website theniteowlrestaurant.com, DoorDash, or in person at the restaurant. Follow them on Facebook at The Nite Owl, your mouth will be watering after scrolling through their photos showcasing their delectable food options.
And if you are in the market for a new job they are hiring a full-time cook, put your application in here.