Blockhouse Diner opens in former Kee Kee Run space in Clyde | Business


CLYDE — As soon as Tabitha Talbot and Jennifer Adams saw the space that had been Kee Kee Run Café — and its hardwood floor, high white tin ceiling and spacious back counter — they knew it was their destiny .

Talbot and Adams had been waitresses at the Port Byron Diner for years. Talbot is from Savannah; Adams lives in Auburn. They had talked about going into business together and opening their own restaurant, but the opportunity never presented itself.

That is, until they saw a Facebook post in early October from the new owner of the building that housed Kee Kee, and Clyde Hardware before that. Keith Martin was looking for a new tenant for the restaurant.

He took them through space – they fell in love with him.

“We were going to do it,” Talbot said. “I even sold my motorhome!”

Their partners, Talbot’s husband and Adams’ boyfriend, gave them some money to get started. Other family members were supportive and encouraging.

“They all said we’d be crazy not to try,” Adams said.

The women opened the Blockhouse Diner on November 22 at 85 Glasgow St. They have transformed the space into more of a restaurant than the cafe it was when Buck and Mary Lainhart ran it as Kee Kee Run these last years.

Talbot and Adams removed the espresso maker, panini maker, and fancy silverware that Talbot called “too heavy and difficult to clean.” They installed two new grills and a deep fryer, and created a menu they knew would appeal to the clientele they hoped to attract, a more laid-back crowd than latte drinkers who sought elaborate desserts. The after-meal choice at the Blockhouse is simply pie – often several kinds.

Eggs, home fries, bacon, French toast, pancakes, eggs, omelettes and sausage sauce on biscuits are typical breakfast items served six days a week, starting at 6 p.m. morning. For lunch, it’s burgers, fries, sandwiches and salads for the most part; lunch is served until 2:00 p.m., when the restaurant closes. The business is also closed on Tuesday, giving women time to catch their breath, they said.

“It’s been busy,” Talbot said, noting that they would like to be open for dinner eventually as well.

Right now, they’re working to get food to tables faster and better manage take-out orders that started pouring in around lunchtime.

Adams and Talbot said they weren’t the only ones wanting to take over the space, but Connie Varricchio, who manages the building for Martin, said they were the best choice.

“Look at them,” said Varricchio, owner of a gift shop in the other half of the first-floor retail space that focuses on selling locally created items. “Look how enthusiastic they are. How could we not choose them? It was just fine.

The women said they relied on their experience of working in Port Byron to know what supplies to order (they use the same dispenser) and what help they needed. Currently, six others are working with them at the Blockhaus.

They also took a lesson from Galen Town historian Hugh Miner, who took them on a tour of the Galen Historical Society. They named the Blockhouse after a French and Indian War-era fort and blockhouse established around 1758 near the present-day village of Clyde. It was abandoned and burned down around 1788, but a reproduction, which still stands today on Route 31, was erected in 1975-76.

Talbot said they wanted to embrace the history of the community so their business isn’t just another place to grab a bite. They also hired City Supervisor Steve Groat, who is a photographer, to help them with vintage photographs, which they reproduced to help decorate the restaurant.

The Lainharts renovated the building when they purchased it from the Robert family and left much of the charm that had carried over to the structure when it was an old fashioned hardware store.

When the Lainharts left, they sold much of the furniture they had added to Martin, along with the building. It was a big help for Talbot and Adams. They kept the tables, the electric fireplace, the comfortable chairs and the crockery, as well as a massive cabinet that completes the restaurant with intimate personal items added by the women. They also added extra tables and chairs in the back room and booths in the front windows.

They immediately decorated it for Christmas, including a huge tree they got for half price when the person selling it found out he wanted it for dinner.

“Tab wanted a big tree, and she got it,” Adams said, adding that she thought they could ask their new customers to help decorate it with ornaments that were meaningful to them.

“Everyone has been so wonderful to us,” Talbot said as he walked around the restaurant, filling coffee cups and apologizing that some orders were taking a little long. “We offered to buy people their breakfast who were waiting, and they said no, that they understood that we were still in the process of fixing the problem. They want us to succeed.


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