Breakfast and Lunch from Scratch
by Beth Steury
A life-long dream came true for Andy and Kim Gay when Corner Café opened October 1, 2016, in Decatur, Indiana.
“This is our first venture out on our own,” explains Andy, who was in management at Richard’s Restaurant for ten years prior to launching the eatery with his wife, Kim. “It was kind of a now-or-never thing,” he shares, with a chuckle.
The couple had long fancied the idea of owning their own restaurant as they each worked in several establishments, owned by others, over the years. “We talked about doing this for so long,” says Kim.
The couple spent a lot of time looking for the perfect location from which to launch their dream business. “We wanted to be on 13th street, near enough to the street for good visibility, and with adequate parking,” explains Andy. They discovered Choice One Rehabilitation was moving to a new location further north on 13th Street and acquired the business’ existing facility.
In August, Andy and Kim dove into an ambitious remodeling schedule with a firm goal of opening October 1. They opened, raring to go, with 90% of the improvements complete. Family and friends helped to name the eatery via feedback sought on Facebook.
Customers frequently comment on how roomy the interior of the restaurant is. In booths and at tables, the eatery comfortably seats 52, with room to squeeze in a few more should the need arise.
Kim and Andy are glad to be operating the sort of restaurant they themselves frequent. “When we travel, we like to go to locally-owned, rather than franchised restaurants.”
What type of cuisine does Corner Café serve? “It’s all home-cooked, fresh,” says Andy, who started cooking with his grandma about the age of five. “We start from scratch every day. Everything is from scratch.”
“He’s the cook,” Kim adds. “I cook, but he loves to cook.”
“All the men in my family cook,” counters Andy.
“Our soups, our desserts, the sandwiches are all homemade. We don’t have a freezer here. Everything is fresh every day,” says Kim. Nothing at Corner Café is pre-made, including the hand-cut fries.
She continues, “Andy makes homemade pies that melt in your mouth.” Kim’s favorites are key lime and butterscotch. “And his carrot cake, when it’s all done, weighs in at about seven-and-a-half pounds.
“We serve a Colombian coffee that is very good, also. We’ve had a nice, warm welcome from the community.”
The fresh desserts sell out every day as per their plan. Corner Café’s Facebook page gets the word out each day about the daily soups, desserts and featured items.
The biscuits and sausage gravy and Andy’s hash brown casserole get rave reviews from breakfast customers. Quiche was a big hit when it joined the traditional breakfast dishes on the menu in December.
Lunch fare features a shaved fried bologna sandwich named after Kim’s dad—Grandpa Draeger’s Fried Bologna—and a “smashed” pork sandwich that blends seasoned roast pork shoulder and Pappa Gay’s—Andy’s dad’s—own BBQ sauce. Other sandwiches—Mombo Meatloaf, Sloppy Joe, Roooben!, Chicken Malibu, Piles O’ Ham, and the Corner Burger—along with a chicken stir-fry, and a chicken bacon ranch salad that features a hand-made dressing round out the lunch menu.
“Soup is kind of a big deal around here,” states the menu. Most days, two homemade soups are offered, including such favorites as stone soup, cheesy cabbage, asparagus, and potato. “The cream of mushroom and cream of broccoli are fabulous,” insists a loyal customer.
Kim says, “We talked about offering a seafood item, and we thought, What about fish tacos?” Evidently, the right choice. “They go like wildfire.”
A kids’ menu is available for both breakfast and lunch. And, gift certificates make it easy to share the new eatery’s unique menu with family and friends.
A small staff, including their children and a few employees the Gays have worked with in the past, operates the café alongside Andy and Kim Tuesday through Sunday. “Breakfast is from seven to eleven, lunch is from eleven to three.”
Andy and Kim willingly devote themselves full-time to the restaurant. Their experience in the local restaurant scene, as well as Andy’s involvement in years past with his family’s grocery, liquor and restaurant endeavors, helped prepare them for the commitment a retail food establishment requires. Growing up in the world of retail and being active in the local community provided a wealth of connections that have served them well at the Corner Café.
When asked if they made the right decision, launching their own restaurant, both Andy and Kim answer “Yes” without a second’s hesitation. Their big smiles confirm they are more than happy operating the Corner Café.
The restaurant enjoyed a steady opening that gave them a solid footing and introduced them to the community. “I’ve opened for a lot of restaurants, and openings are crucial because you make so many lasting impressions,” Andy says.
“Every day, we welcome new customers,” adds Kim, confirming that locals continue to discover the new eatery.
What does the future hold? Andy envisions additions to their menu—some new specials, some original items they’d like to try. “There’s nothing we would take off the menu because everything sells,” says Kim.
Andy agrees. “Everything is someone’s favorite.”
105 N. 13th Street
Decatur, IN 46733