Taking the initiative

Farnhamville Betterment Inc. prepares site for restaurant

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson Doug Johnson, president of the Farnhamville Betterment Inc., visits with Juanita Borland and Emily Bendickson about all of the work that has been done to the building which was formerly Tony’s Steakhouse. The group has renovated the building and are on the search for a tenant to lease it in hopes of opening up a new restaurant and bar in the small Calhoun County town.

FARNHAMVILLE — A large turnout at an open house of a renovated building is proof that community members are eager to have a place to socialize and have a place to come for a meal in their small town again.

The Farnhamville Betterment Inc. has purchased the former Tony’s Steakhouse building and through fundraising efforts have renovated the space and are currently searching for a tenant to come in and open up a restaurant and bar.

Rita Kail, of Farnhamville is excited for a restaurant and bar to open back up in town, and believes that it will be good for their small community.

“I think it looks awesome,” said Farnhamville resident Rita Kail. “Our town needs this; it is a place for social networking. Coming up here is a social event and we all have missed that and it will be great to see cars on both sides of our main street just like we have this evening.”

Juanita Borland from Farnhamville was anxious to get in and see all of the work that has been done.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson An open house was held recently to highlight the progress of renovations done to a building in Farnhamville that was most recently Tony’s Steakhouse.

“It looks really nice and it will be a nice place to come to,” said Borland.

Emily Bendickson, also from Farnhamville was pleased with all of the hard work that has been put in to the renovation process.

“They have put a lot of work in to it,” she said. “I hope they find someone to come in and run it because it will be a great addition to the town and will be welcomed back.”

Farnhamville mayor Frank Morgan said with all of the changes to the building that it should be very appealing for someone to lease and start a business.

“They have done a wonderful job in here remodeling,” Morgan said. “It is a great place for someone to start up a bar and restaurant and will be great to have a new place in town to come to and get a meal and socialize.”

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson An open house was held recently for those to see the progress of renovations done to a building in Farnhamville that was most recently Tony’s Steakhouse. The Farnhamvile Betterment Inc. has been raising money, taking donations and putting in their time to fix the building up and are currently looking for a tenant to open up a restaurant and bar in the small community.

Doug Johnson, president of Farnhamville Betterment Inc., along with Reggie Kopecky and several other volunteers have been a vital part of the remodeling process that has been going on for the last four months.

Johnson said they have been busy with painting, fixing up the floors, ceiling and electrical; have added new seating and made some floor plan changes.

The building is close to complete with a new bar and other special touches, however, is still in need of a new furnace and improved ventilation and work done to the kitchen.

“We would like to wait for a tenant to come in and have the kitchen set up to way they would want it,” said Johnson.

Johnson said fundraising has gone great so far, but they would still like to raise more money to help with the last of the projects.

A tenant, Johnson said would only need to furnish their inventory, employees, etc. to open up for business, other than that, he said there are very few requirements for someone to come in and open up.

“We are planning on only leasing the building for enough to cover the costs of our insurance and taxes. No one could walk into a building likes this for that cost,” said Johnson. “We just ask that they are friendly, clean and serve good food.”

Johnson said he has put in all of the labor and time to try to help the town of Farnhamville.

“We are just trying to keep the small town alive,” he said. “I own the car wash here in town and I noticed business has gone down there since Tony’s Steakhouse closed.”

Johnson said the community is seeing the progress and many of them are missing having a restaurant in town and also miss the social aspects of having a place to gather.

Reggie Kopecky said it has been a long four months of working on the building, but it is all working out well.

“We need a place for people to socialize and be able to come have a meal,” said Kopecky. “There was talk of someone buying the building and turning it in to storage and we would much rather see a business in here.”

Kopecky said the space features a very large kitchen that could support both a restaurant and a bakery and all around has great potential.

“If you want to open a restaurant and bar, this would be the place to do it,” said Kopecky.

According to Johnson, Farnhamville Betterment Inc. repurchased the building in January 2016 with funds leftover from selling the building back in 2008.

This isn’t the first time some members of the community have come together to help. In 2000, with donations from Farnhamville residents the building, which was a grocery store, was purchased with the intention to lease the building to someone to run it as a restaurant/bar/convenience store.

Although the convenience store part of the building failed, the Farnhamville Betterment Inc. was able to keep it leased as a restaurant/bar before selling it in 2008, when Tony’s Steakhouse opened up. That business ran until 2015.

For those interested in leasing the building Johnson can be reached by emailing cykat62@yahoo.com or calling him at (515) 520-0085.