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A comforting kitchen: Yelp names Izzy’s top 100 places to eat in U.S. for second year in a row

Izzy’s Comfort Kitchen chef Reannan Keene takes a break in the dining room in Coeur d’Alene. Izzy’s was named to Yelp’s Top 100 list of restaurants in 2023 and again this year. The restaurant is owned by Reannan and her husband Jason Keene.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

Comfort is a term often used to describe food or a dining experience. But what does this form of comfort look like?

Comfort is an energy that people are drawn to. Comfort is a family-owned restaurant with scratch-made recipes and a variety of consistent customers. Comfort is fresh food and a tried-and-true food service philosophy.

Comfort is Izzy’s Comfort Kitchen in Coeur d’Alene. So much so that Yelp placed the eatery in the top 100 best places in the U.S. to eat for the second year in a row.

Co-owners and husband and wife Jason and Reannan Keene believe in a system of welcoming and comforting their customers, which draws in more guests in the future.

In 2020, both Jason and Reannan had been in the restaurant industry for 20 years and were managing corporate restaurants at the same company but at different locations. The company had to fire a third of its managers, so the Keene’s seized the opportunity to open their own restaurant.

Starting a restaurant during the second stage of COVID-19 restrictions was an obstacle.

“We only seat 44 as it is, and we did have to follow the mandate and take out a couple of tables to accommodate for social distancing requirements,” Reannan Keene said. “It was a little bit easier to navigate being located in Idaho rather than somewhere else. We started making good sales shortly after opening because the restrictions were lifted.”

After fighting through the typical struggles of starting a business and going through the process of opening a restaurant, Izzy’s was named to Yelp’s top 100 places to eat in the U.S. for the second consecutive year. In 2023, Izzy’s held the 43rd national slot, and has moved up to 35th in 2024.

Yelp bases its list on guest comments, star ratings and number of reviews. Izzy’s was contacted in the beginning of December by Yelp and informed that they would, again, be on the list. Restaurants on the list are not aware of their position on the list until the list is released to the public in January.

The restaurant has been considerably busier than usual in the past three weeks following the poll’s release. For this reason, and the fact that there is no waiting space in the restaurant, reservations are highly recommended.

The name Izzy’s is in memory of Jason and Reannan’s daughter, Isabella, who passed away in 2011.

“We knew her name would be at the forefront if we ever opened a restaurant,” Reannan Keene said.

Izzy’s menu is headlined by their most popular item, the apple whiskey chicken sandwich. Their happy hour menu on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays has gained significant popularity.

When Chick-fil-A opened in Spokane, a lot of local restaurants made their version of the best chicken sandwich. That was when Reannan came up with the recipe for the apple whiskey chicken sandwich, and it is still the most popular menu item.

Jason and Reannan emphasize serving fresh food and showing compassion toward their loyal guests.

“We want people to know we truly care about the investment they are making every time they come into our business,” Reannan Keene said. “People can taste real. People recognize genuine cooking. They’re not getting the same frozen fries they can get at every other restaurant.”

Jason is the operations manager. He handles payroll, maintains the building and manages the financial plan. Reannan is the chef and media marketing manager.

Aside from the owners, there are typically 15 to 20 employees at Izzy’s. Izzy’s philosophy is to take care of their employees, so that their employees take care of their guests, so their guests take care of the rest.

“No matter what day of the week you come in, the food will be the same quality,” Reannan Keene said. “Our customers rely on our consistency.”

Liam Bradford's reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.