DUDLEYTOWN — For around 10 years, Demetrice Holmes has operated her own day care facility in her hometown of Saginaw, Michigan.
Outside of her time there, the 42-year-old has become known for making her own mixed drinks.
“When my family had gatherings, they were always asking me to make drinks, so I was always the drink maker,” she said, smiling. “Then I actually started creating my own drinks and selling them, and I was like, ‘I want to have me a bar.’”
She, however, didn’t want that bar to be in Saginaw.
“I just wanted to venture out, and I just wanted to have it somewhere else to get the chance to meet new people and try to expand my horizons, basically,” she said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic when people spent a lot of time at home, Holmes was on the computer searching for bars for sale.
The one at 2105 S. County Road 750E in Dudleytown that most recently operated as Luke’s Country Inn kept showing up.
“It caught my eye, and I saw the price and what came along with it,” Holmes said. “I was talking to my mom, talking to my friends and I was like, ‘I can’t let this deal go, can’t pass it up.’”
She made the five-and-a-half-hour drive to check it out a few times.
“When I was searching, actually honestly, maybe only three or four other ones were popping up, but it was like every day I looked, this one just kept popping up for some reason,” she said. “Then I was like, ‘With the price and the liquor permit and all that stuff came with it, I just can’t let it go.’”
In January 2022, she took ownership of the building, named the restaurant Meek’s Bar and Grill — Meek is a longtime nickname and is the name she uses for her mixed drinks business — and started making updates inside.
She did some painting, bought a new hot water system and a new walk-in freezer, had everything professionally cleaned and serviced, put down new carpet in the bar area and added purple and black tablecloths and chair covers.
She hired Sean Roberts to be the manager and Wanda Chilton to be cook. Both previously worked there when it was Luke’s.
“Sean was doing a lot of stuff for me in the background, so he was a big help to me,” Holmes said.
She has been going back and forth between Saginaw and Dudleytown, and she now has a second home in Seymour. When the restaurant is up and running, she will still be doing some back-and-forth traveling.
“I know if I have to leave for something, I know Sean will be here. I trust Sean. When I met him and we got to talking, I was like, ‘I like him,’” she said, smiling.
“Back at home, my mom, when I’m not there, she runs the day care for me,” she said. “She has been working for me since we’ve been open, so she knows everything that I know. She knows how to run it just like how I do. Sometimes, she does it better than me.”
Roberts said after Holmes purchased the restaurant, she reached out to him about coming back there. At the time, he was working at Lannett Co. Inc. in Seymour.
“I didn’t want to leave Lannett because I liked it, but I really love it out here, so I’m like, ‘I’ll work there, but I’ll help you as much as I can,’” he said.
Two days later, Lannett announced layoffs, so Roberts told Holmes he would come work for her.
“That was a blessing in disguise,” Holmes said.
“I just love all of the people out here,” Roberts said. “This is probably my favorite job I’ve ever had.”
They plan to open Meek’s Bar and Grill on Tuesday. The official hours will be announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page, but Holmes said she’s thinking of opening at 4 p.m. and closing around midnight through the week and 2 a.m. on weekends.
It will pretty much be the same menu at the start, featuring burgers, tenderloins, chicken wings, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, cheese balls, salads and pizza.
“When I officially do the grand opening is when I start introducing different food items as I go — different food, different drinks,” Holmes said. “I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the drinks because a lot of people when they found out who I was, they were finding me on Facebook and asking about the drinks and everything.”
She’s thinking of tacos, pork chops and ribs being among daily special offerings at some point, maybe even doing Taco Tuesday, Wing Wednesday and Fish Friday like restaurants offer in Saginaw.
There also will be a kids menu featuring items like chicken tenders, burgers and hot dogs.
At some point, Holmes said she wants to add breakfast to the menu and offer that on weekends.
Luke’s used to have live music on Saturdays, and Holmes said she also wants to do live music, but she’s not sure how often it will be. There’s also a jukebox inside the restaurant, and Roberts said he’s interested in having karaoke nights and even a comedy event with dinner and a show.
They also have had people reach out about hosting painting classes with drinks and a Tupperware party, and Holmes said she would like to expand the outdoor patio and also offer events for kids, like movie nights. The back room of the restaurant is for families.
“I’m open to anything new,” Holmes said. “I just have a big vision for it, and I just hope everything falls into place. I believe it will.”
A lot of local people have reached out to her on Facebook and the restaurant’s page, and she said that excites her as she starts this new venture 400 miles from her hometown.
“Right now, I’m just looking forward to meeting a lot of new people, which I have been meeting people. They’ve been finding me on Facebook,” she said, smiling.
“Everybody seems nice,” she said. “It’s crazy because I’ll go inside some of the stores or when we go to sign up for the business and all of this stuff and they are like, ‘Oh, so you’re the one who bought it.’ … With them being like that, it motivates me, so I think everything is going to work out pretty good. I’m just excited.”
At a glance
Meek’s Bar and Grill is at 2105 S. County Road 750E, Dudleytown.
The restaurant plans to open Tuesday.
For information, call 812-522-9261 or visit facebook.com/countryinndudleytown.