(WORTHINGTON) - The annual Worthington town-wide yard sales Sept. 1 will be more than just a chance to seek good deals, but an opportunity to try out a new eatery.
Sabrina Westfall of the Greene County Daily World reports that Route 67 Ice Cream and Diner will open its doors for an initial appearance in the community that day.
In what owner Bert Clark termed a "soft opening," the old-style drug store themed restaurant -- connected to the old Wendy's Antiques across from the fountain in Worthington -- will offer a limited menu.
"I want people to get the feel of what Worthington once was. At the turn of the last century, it was the premiere place of the Midwest," Clark explained of the diner's theme.
The opening day will feature the ice cream shop and diner's signature hand-dipped ice cream and shakes, as well as some sandwich selections.
The full menu, expected to be available Sept. 10, will include the hand-dipped shakes, a grilled-thin patty hamburger, hand-battered tenderloins and hand-battered chicken strips.
"There will be daily specials seven days a week," he noted. "Our No. 1 thing is everything is going to be fresh, not frozen."
Clark said the diner will be open past normal operating hours of most Worthington establishments, noting he plans to be open 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
The connected antique store, now called Route 67 antiques, will be open the same hours. He said he hopes the antique shop has a "gift shop feel."
"I'd like to see people walking these streets at night to come here ... that's what makes a small town is people walking the streets and having a place to go," Clark said. "This will give people a place to go to grab a sandwich and ice cream after church or a sporting event."
He said he hopes the old drug store theme offers the older generation in Worthington a place to reflect on easier times and the younger generations a new experience.
"I want to remind them of a time before these things started dinging all the time," Clark said pointing at his ringing cell phone.
The old Oddfellow Lounge sits above the new ice cream shop, and he plans to turn it into a banquet facility or meeting room.
He said he would also like to see some youth activities started in the lounge once it's open to cater to the young people in the area.
"If we don't take care of them, they won't be around to take care of us," Clark noted.
Clark, a Bloomington native, said Worthington holds a special place in his heart after years of family reunions and time spent with his grandmother in Worthington as a child.
Clark said he officially moved back to town about three years ago and through "hard work and some financial help from a friend," has started making small steps in restoring areas of the community.
He bought the old Victorian style house on Christian St., restored it and turned it into the Buffaloe Inn.
Clark added he has had visitors from all corners of the country stay at the Inn, and said expanding what the town offers is a good way to bring in tourists.
"I'm not doing this as a Worthington thing. This is a county thing," he noted.
Clark said as he gets these projects going he would like to start hosting fundraisers for the community as well.
Clark said it is important to invest in small towns to keep them alive, and keep our money close to home.
"The more we can offer, the more people can take back with them," he said.
He said as the Interstate 69 interchange at Scotland becomes closer to a reality, it is important to promote and advertise the small communities in Greene County to produce revenue.
Clark said his work in Worthington has become one he is passionate about.
"I think I'm here for a reason ... I'm not doing this for my glory. I'm doing this because I just think it needs to be done," he explained. "There is a lot of history here. We shouldn't give up now."
He said he hopes he can continue to create jobs and bring people into the county.
Most importantly, he said he couldn't continue to do these projects without the help and support of the community.
He credited Julie Moorehouse as a huge help, as she will serve as manager of Route 67 Ice Cream and Diner, and Justin Coleman has helped to transform the old building into a soon-to-be diner in just a few weeks. He added Sean Sarnecki has also been a big help with the heating and cooling.
"I can't do it by myself. This has taken a lot of hard work by quite a few people," he added.
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