A downtown Seymour building that served as a farm implement store for most of its existence is about to become an upscale eatery.
The new restaurant will open in the Cordes Building, 112 St. Louis Ave.
Constructed in 1890, the building housed Cordes Implement until the 1970s, when Charlie Cordes moved the business to the east side of the city in the area of the state highway garage, Phil Cordes of Seymour said.
Charlie Cordes, who died in June 2011, was Phil Cordes’ cousin.
Local businessman Tom Goecker owns the building and has begun renovating it to meet the needs of the Louisville businessman who will operate the restaurant, which is scheduled to open in late spring. Goecker declined to name that man.
Goecker also owns several other buildings and has been behind efforts to bring businesses downtown to revive the area.
Several local residents said they are willing to give the restaurant a chance and help with that effort.
Tara Johnson of Seymour said she wishes the owners luck.
“I’d give them a shot at my foodie dollars,” she said. “I think that any entrepreneur that is willing to pursue excellence in whatever they’re offering will flourish.”
Tammie Craig-Niewedde of Brownstown said she thinks the restaurant could breathe new life into the downtown.
“It might keep people in the county rather than going to Columbus,” she said.
Craig-Niewedde said her decision to eat there would depend on two factors: quality of the food and service.
“Price plays, too,” she said. “But I’ll be willing to pay for high-quality cuisine and service.”
Nicholas Klinger of Seymour said he hopes the restaurant is successful but worries about the limited parking. But he said that won’t keep him from visiting the restaurant.
Kevin Greene, a downtown business owner, said any downtown place open after 5 p.m. is a great addition.
Some aren’t certain the restaurant will go over so well.
“I will check it out,” Jeff East of Seymour said. “But I doubt if it can survive in Seymour. This town could not keep a Starbucks nor a good steakhouse. The best places to eat in this town are the small local-owned places.”
Goecker said the man who will own and operate the restaurant has a proven track record when it comes to operating the business.
“He has a chef, and they have been going over a menu,” Goecker said.
The menu will feature steak, seafood and chicken and probably some craft beer, although not a brewery, he said.
The restaurant doesn’t have a name, but the owner is open to suggestions. Some ideas that have been discussed include The Rail and The Hub, he said.
“We’re looking to tie it to the downtown and the railroads,” Goecker said. “He’s looking for something unique.”
Goecker said his role is to make sure the new building “pops” for the opening. He said the idea is to turn a historic building into a focal point.
Construction workers have been a constant presence at the building lately. They’re adding a one-story addition in a vacant lot next to the building. That addition will include restrooms and storage for the downstairs.
The area in front of the addition to the sidewalk along St. Louis Avenue will be an outdoor dining area.
Other workers have been installing drywall and woodwork upstairs and downstairs.
The downstairs, which likely will seat a little less than 100 people, will be the restaurant. A bar area, which will be separated from the restaurant, will be near the front of the building and will contain seating along a garage-like glass door that can be raised weather-permitting.
That’s a new concept that can be found in cities such as Indianapolis and the Falls City area along the Ohio River.
No use has been identified for the second floor of the building, although Goecker said it could become a waiting area where customers could get a drink and have a choice of appetizers. He said he thinks it could seat as many as 100 people.
He discussed his plans Wednesday with the Downtown Review Board, which is putting together guidelines for the renovation of historic buildings. He is a private contractor and president of that board. He said his whole approach to the project is to not overreach any existing rules for renovation or potential ones the board is considering.
Goecker purchased the building and vacant lot for $30,000 in 2011. He also owns several other downtown buildings, including one housing Java Joint, a coffee shop.
The restaurant would join another that opened in downtown Seymour in recent months.
Garvin Parmley of Seymour opened a downtown location of his Bullwinkle’s Family Restaurant at 107 N. Chestnut St. The restaurant serves pizza, burgers and wings, along with a salad bar, sandwiches and other light lunch choices.
Bo Brown of Seymour plans to open an Italian restaurant on Second Street this winter.
Bullwinkle’s and Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant on South Chestnut Street are the only restaurants open during the evenings. Other places to eat downtown include Bevers Deli, The Chocolate Spoon, The Townhouse and Larrison’s Diner. Chillicen, an ice cream, frozen yogurt and shaved ice shop, also is on South Chestnut Street but is a seasonal business.