Kirk Dougal/Times Bulletin
The new buffet bar is just one of the items customers will notice about the Orchard Tree when it reopens. After going out of business only a month ago, new owners are ready to welcome back in hungry patrons on Monday morning at 6 a.m.
BY KIRK DOUGAL
Times Bulletin Editor
VAN WERT - There is good news for area residents, employees and customers of a local restaurant - that business will be returning at 6 a.m. on Monday morning.
It was almost exactly a month ago on a Sunday night in December when the doors were locked at the Orchard Tree Restaurant on W. Main St. in Van Wert and it was unknown if they would ever open again. Patrons and many of the employees were shocked the next morning when they read a sign on the door saying that the restaurant was closed for good.
But within a few days, steps were being taken to see that would not happen. Local businessmen banded together and bought the restaurant and almost immediately a flurry of activity began to surround the property. Slowly the word began to leak out: the Orchard Tree would reopen and be saved.
"Van Wert does not need another empty building," said Lynn Whitaker, one of the new co-owners of the property. "Van Wert Does not need another 30 people unemployed. We felt that it was still a good, solid business and there might have been some decisions made by the previous owner that we felt we could change around and make it into a successful business."
Employees had been stunned at the abrupt closing in December, calling the loss of the business and its customers a very personal feeling. Robin Bear, the previous night manager, had said the restaurant was more than just a business and that it had been like a family. Now she is elated with the recent events.
"We are all excited," Bear told the Times Bulletin. "All of us were very excited. We've already had a managers meeting and we have another scheduled. We just can't wait to get back to work."
The new owners have already completed a great deal of renovations on the inside of the building. A new buffet bar, carpeting, wall covering, trim work and the movement of some tables and booths are just some of the items that regular patrons will notice right away. But not to worry said Whitaker, they will still recognize a lot as well.
"We are going to keep a lot of the things the same for now," he added. "We are going to reopen with the same menu but we will be adding things in the upcoming weeks. We have a certain crowd that comes in now and we want to keep them happy but we also want to expand and draw in more customers. We're excited."