Good times ahead: Eatery reopens at Dudleytown

On County Road 750E in Dudleytown, just south of Seymour, sits a little restaurant and bar called The Country Inn, where the motto is “Good Beer, Good Food, Good Friends.”

The building has been there for many years and once operated as Pete’s Tavern.

About three years ago, Rob and Theresa Schwartz of Seymour purchased the business as an investment from Dale DeBurger with plans to sell it to someone else on contract.

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“When he first asked us, I said, ‘No way. We’re not buying a bar,’” Theresa said.

But DeBurger was out of town a lot and didn’t have time to mess with the property. He didn’t want to see the business close, so he offered it to the Schwartzes at a bargain price.

“He gave us a great deal,” Rob said.

The deal with the person who was going to buy it from the Schwartzes fell through, however, and the business closed for about a year and a half.

“Everybody around there wanted it open,” Rob said.

They continued to try to market the vacant building but had no one interested in buying it. That’s when Rob, a general contractor, decided they would have to reopen if they ever wanted to sell it.

Easier said than done. The building already was old and had sat empty, so it was in need of repairs and updates.

“It needed a lot of work,” Rob said.

They purchased all new kitchen equipment, built a new bar, put in new flooring and renovated the dining room and family room. They hired Rita Stoner to manage the restaurant and Judy Griffen to work there. Both women worked at Lucille’s in Crothersville before it closed. Also on staff is Wanda Chilton, who used to run the place by herself.

Neither Rob nor Theresa had any background in the food industry business.

“We were clueless,” Theresa said.

Although the location of The Country Inn is off of the beaten path, the Schwartzes say that hasn’t hurt business. In fact, they say it’s the perfect location because it’s about equal distance from Crothersville, Brownstown and Seymour.

“We’ll have a bunch of locals out there. They’ll be in for lunch and then dinner, too,” Rob said.

The business officially reopened Aug. 24 and has been more successful than the Schwartzes imagined it would be. A grand opening event is set for Saturday with live music from local acts Rick Wilson and Past Tense, a beer garden and beanbag toss.

“We can’t keep up,” Rob said.

“It’s unbelievable,” Theresa added. “On Fridays and Saturdays, we have people standing in the back family room waiting for seats. It has been packed.”

The building seats about 100 people.

They attribute the success to the business’ history and the fact that it’s not just the only restaurant in Dudleytown but the only business. But they also attract customers from Scott County and Bartholomew County.

“People have a lot of good memories of the place,” Rob said.

“It’s just got a neat atmosphere,” Theresa added.

One of the most popular items on the menu is the pork tenderloin sandwich, handbreaded using Stoner’s grandmother’s recipe and deep fried or grilled. There are burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, fish and even a thick-cut fried bologna sandwich.

To support other local small businesses, the Schwartzes purchase their hamburger and tenderloins from Darlage Custom Meats in Seymour.

Homemade country platter specials change from day to day and vary from meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn to chicken and dumplings and sweet carrots to country fried steak and green beans to lasagna and garlic bread to beef stroganoff and even frog legs and quesadillas.

Desserts are made from scratch, and there often are drink specials on draft beer, wine and mixed drinks. The business also offers carryout liquor and bagged ice.

Rob said originally, he had no intentions of offering dinners and was planning to do away with the family room, add a couple of dartboards and model it more after The Brick in Jonesville.

“I didn’t want to have two or three cooks and all the waitresses, but I got overruled,” he said.

Now, the business employs a staff of 18 full- and part-time workers.

The business is still for sale, but for right now, the Schwartzes are enjoying their new venture.

“We’ve met so many new friends,” Rob said.

“It’s better than it’s ever been, I think,” Theresa added. “It’s fun to go out there.”

But if the right person with the right offer comes along, Rob said he might be overruled again.

“She’d like to sell it, but I’d like to play with it for a little while,” Rob said. “I’m not going to sell it to just anyone that will run it into the ground.”

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What: Grand opening of The Country Inn with live music from Rick Wilson and Past Tense, a beer garden and cornhole

When: Saturday; music will be from 4 p.m. to midnight

Where: 2105 S. County Road 750E, Dudleytown

Owners: Rob and Theresa Schwartz

Regular business hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Tuesdays through Thursdays with the kitchen closing at 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturdays; closed Mondays and Sundays

Information: 812-523-7228