Medora couple has fond memories of the former dairy bar in town at the corner of Perry and Scott streets.
Growing up in the southwestern Jackson County community, Sara and Shawn Todd both said they often went there with their families, and Sara worked there in 1990 during her senior year at Medora High School.
Story continues below gallery
But that restaurant closed several years ago, resulting in just a couple of places to buy food in town and some people venturing to other areas to eat.
When the Todds learned the building was for sale, they decided to bring it back to life.
Within the next month or so, they hope to have Courtside Cafe open for business.
“It’s kind of like full circle,” Sara said. “I remember coming in here with my dad. We’d go to the mill to get feed. We’d go to the bank to get a sucker — of course, he did other things, I’m sure, but that’s all I wanted was the suckers. Then, we’d come down here and get a tenderloin. That was like a Saturday for me. Then, I worked here. Now, we’re running it.”
Shawn said he liked going there for a tenderloin and ice cream, and his mother often went there to get food for the family.
In town at the time, there also was a restaurant that had a buffet, the tavern had a family dining area and there were two grocery stores. Sara said the restaurants were packed all times of the day.
After moving away from Medora for a while for work, Shawn returned and found that a lot of the places he remembered growing up were sitting empty. He wanted that to change.
“This was a happening little town when we were growing up,” he said. “We just want to give back to the community that gave us so much. This is our home. Even if you leave, there’s something about if you grow up in Medora, it’s home. It’s always home. It gave us our childhood. We want to bring a positive back to the town.”
In early January, the Todds began working on the building, which was constructed in 1973. So far, they’ve added a wall inside, moved the restrooms indoors, installed a heating and air conditioning system and put on a new roof.
They also have done electrical work and painting, installed new lights and put down new flooring.
The next steps are to finish working on the restrooms, install kitchen equipment and tables, build a deck on the front of the building, redo the sidewalk and decorate the indoor dining areas.
The Todds hope to have indoor seating for 50 people — with the main dining area having televisions.
The decor will feature the school’s main sports, basketball and volleyball. That was an easy choice for Sara, who was an athlete when she was in high school and is currently the volleyball head coach. Plus, her two daughters participate in sports there.
“I think you have that certain loyalty,” she said. “You put so much blood, sweat and tears in — whether it be in this town farming the ground like (Shawn) did with his uncle, through high school, whether it be in here serving ice cream, or whether it be over there coaching.”
The Todds will have some family members helping them run the restaurant, but they also hope to employ other kids and adults in town.
They plan to be open seven days a week year-round, possibly from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and maybe a little later on weekends or nights of sporting events at the school. The dairy bar used to only be open during the warm months.
As far as food offerings, they will serve sandwiches, burgers, fries, pizza and plate lunches and dinners. They also hope to have daily specials, including fish on Fridays.
And there will still be desserts, including soft-serve ice cream, banana splits, sundaes and milkshakes.
“We’re going to keep a lot of the things the same because that’s what people want,” Sara said. “We’re going to bring some new stuff, too.”
The prices also will be reasonable.
“We want to treat people right. That’s the bottom line,” Shawn said. “It’s going to be a hometown, friendly environment where everybody is welcome.”
While the couple said it’s nice to bring something back for the people of Medora, they hope to draw people in from other areas, too.
“If you have good food, people will drive,” Sara said. “We didn’t want to start something to make money in Brownstown or Bedford. We wanted to do it here and pull people here because the more people you have come in, you never know, somebody might say, ‘Hey, I want to live here’ or ‘Hey, I want my kids to go to that school’ or ‘This is a nice little town.’”
Sara said several people in town have stopped by to ask what they are doing. All of the feedback has been good.
Now, they are focused on the finishing touches before opening the doors.
“We want everything to be good, and then, we’ll open because we don’t want to deter people just because we have a hiccup or something,” Sara said. “We want to make sure everything is up to par before we open.”