Nodaway Diner demolished to make way for Casey’s expansion
GREENFIELD — Vicki and Jerry Eshelman of Greenfield is going from a diner demolition to a new dining nook.
The Eshelmans sold Greenfield’s Nodaway Diner, 502 SE Kent St., to Casey’s General Store.
“We tore it completely down, so all is there is an empty lot now,” Vicki said.
The Eshelmans bought a space in Atlantic, which they began remodeling in 2013. Farmers Walnut Street Diner, 319 Walnut St., Atlantic, will tentatively open in late summer.
The Eshelmans decided to sell Nodaway Diner after being approached by Casey’s General Stores February 2013. The company purchased Kum and Go stores in June 2011, and one of those stores was next door to Nodaway Diner.
Casey’s General Stores plans to expand the store with the added space from the diner’s demolition.
Farmers Walnut Street Diner still has work to be done to it.
The Eshelmans couldn’t work on the restaurant until the deal with Casey’s was finished, and equipment is being kept in trailers until enough work is done to start moving it in to the Atlantic property.
“We’ve got a lot of people that’s been asking us ever since we bought it in April of last year, when we are going to be open and this and that,” Vicki said. “People are excited for us to get up there.”
Because the new restaurant is a 45-mile trek from Greenfield, the Eshelmans will use an apartment above the building to stay in part of the time, instead of traveling.
“I think, down the road, it will be (the right decision),” Vicki said.
Unfortunately, an issue arose during the sale to Casey’s.
“I guess the time was right. I mean, it was and it wasn’t. But, if we could have finished the deal last year, it would have been a better deal for us because we lost a lot of business because people thought we were already closed,” Vicki said. “But, they (Casey’s) drug their feet out, but we got them nailed down.”
After Casey’s approached the Eshelmans about selling the property, the Eshelmans approached the former owner of Farmers Kitchen in Atlantic and purchased it.
They gutted it and started a remodel into Farmers Walnut Street Diner, but had to stop work temporarily because of the issue with Casey’s.
“If we’d have known that this was going to drag out for over a year, we probably never would have done it,” Vicki said. “We would have stayed where we were at.”
According to Vicki, Casey’s kept giving them a “runaround” by delaying the deal.
The deal was supposed to go through in November, but the convenience store company asked for a 90-day extension, which was granted. Then, in February, the company asked for another 90-day extension, which was not granted.
However, the company waited until the final 15 minutes of the purchase window to complete the deal.
Part of the deal included payment to the Eshelmans for demolishing the building themselves, which occurred March 20.
“I had mixed emotions all along,” Vicki said. “I still do.”
The Eshelmans purchased the property for Nodaway Diner in 1995 from John and Wanda Scott.
“We were running one (restaurant) in Bridgewater,” said Vicki. “We just weren’t able to do anything because we rented the building, and this building became available. So, we bought it.”
Eventually, the couple opened Nodaway Diner.
“When we got it all put together and opened on the 15th of March, 1995, we got a huge response,” Vicki said. “It was a lot more than what we were used to in Bridgewater.”
For the following six months, the Eshelmans ran their Bridgewater restaurant, Bridgewater Cafe, before selling. Then, their time was spent running Nodaway Diner and improving it.
“We did a lot of remodeling on the building on the inside,” Vicki said.
The inside of the building was remodeled in 2004, a pitched roof was added in 2010 to prevent leaks and the entrance was also changed.
Vicki said service came from all over, including Creston, Stuart and Earlham.