Medora man proposes cafe, event center in vacant building



Timothy Gothra looks at the building at the corner of Main and Perry Streets in Medora and sees potential.

The first floor would be a coffee shop with hot and cold sandwiches, desserts, basic coffees, teas, soda and bottled water.

A second floor to be added would have three offices and eventually be used for community classes and office space with hope of bringing Christian counseling. There also would be a commons area with a couch, a television, a ping-pong table, a pool table and other games designed for youth.

There also would be an event center for parties, receptions, weddings, church events and other private events.

If he can collect $75,000, Gothra said he thinks he can make his dream of opening Brickyard Coffee and Event Center at 3 S. Perry St. a reality.

“The need here is so real,” he recently told the Medora Town Council. “From the students to the retired, there is a need for hope and revitalization as a community, as families, as individuals.”

A negative light has been shined on Medora over the years, and Gothra said he believes that narrative can be changed.

“We can transform the negative into something positive,” he said. “We can show the generation who built this community that there are young people who are thankful for what they’ve done, thankful for the work that they put in, and we can inspire a new generation to believe in Medora and the possibilities and the potential that is here.”

Opening the business could inspire other people to follow suit, he said.

“I think we can inspire small towns to do the same thing,” Gothra said. “I think we can change lives and impact our community in a powerful way, and I want to do that, but I can’t do that alone.”

Gothra hasn’t purchased the building yet. It has been owned by David and Mary Abner of Norman since Feb. 17, 2000, but has been vacant ever since.

Through research, Gothra said he learned the building is more than 100 years old. According to property tax records, a note in 2011 said the building had been in the process of being remodeled since at least 2002, and the walls and flooring were removed. When the remodeling was finished, the nearby post office planned to move into the building.

The remodeling, however, never was completed, and the post office is still in the same location.

Property tax records show the building was changed to all utility storage and unfinished and the plumbing was removed in 2015.

In March, the town council expressed concern about the safety of the building. Gothra, however, said he recently had a couple of people inspect it, and both determined it to be structurally sound.

The building has a new roof and windows, but it lacks everything else, Gothra said. To complete renovation, he would need flooring, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical and framing for the second floor.

Then the first floor would have a stained concrete floor, exposed brick, conduit pipe for electricity, an open duct system and an unfinished ceiling sprayed with black foam for insulation. It also would need heating and air.

Gothra said after talking to people who could do the work, he estimates $75,000 for renovation and upfront costs.

To raise the money, he is going to look into grants and sponsorships and do an online donation campaign.

Council President Robert Thompson said the town’s grant writer may know of potential grants Gothra could apply for, and there may be funding through the local Owen-Carr Township Community Fund or a state historical organization.

Plus, local businesses and individuals may be interested in helping.

“I’m pretty sure that some of the people in the community would be more than willing to help out with something of this nature. It may not be a great amount, but every dollar counts,” he said.

“I think it would be a good idea, but I know they’ve got to start from scratch. There isn’t any doubt about that,” Councilman Jim Davers said of Gothra’s renovation proposal.

Gothra said he would be sure to recognize anyone who contributes to the project with their name and logo inside the building.

“It would be community driven, so this venture is not about profit — not at all,” he said. “It would be all about the community. I’m not going into this project with an expectation that we’re going to make really much of any money. I’m going into this project as a mission to bring hope to our town.”

Gothra said he has talked to school officials about creating an after-school work program for students at the business.

“We have amazing students, we have awesome families in our community and they need to hear us saying, ‘You matter. We care about you. We’re here for you,'” he said.

He also would like to have special community-driven days where families could spend time together while having the opportunity to order from a limited menu. The same would be offered in the evenings after high school sporting events.

“My vision for this building is to create a place that our community can embrace and call their own, to create a culture and environment that is safe, full of life and breeds hope, offering to our students, our young parents, our families somewhere they can go, something they can do outside of the drugs and the brokenness that are all too common on our streets,” he said.

Gothra said he has talked to people in the community and some who have left who want to see a business thriving in the community.

“I want to see Medora grow, not fade,” he said. “I want to see Medora become, not disappear. I want to see Medora be a place of hope and not despair, embracing our rich history but celebrating our future ahead, not only impacting the people here in our community but also positively impacting Medora’s influence and reputation in the eyes of the communities around us.”

The proposed name of the business ties into the brick plant that used to operate in town. That property is being restored in hopes of making it a tourist attraction.

Gothra said he would like to hire an artist to paint a mural on the side of the building with the business’ name and references to the brick plant, Medora Covered Bridge, rich farming history and town name’s musical influence.

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