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Lifestyles & Community

February 20, 2014

A Visit with a bell-The Dinner Bell Restaurant in Berea

MADISON COUNTY —

I have wanted for some time to visit and interview people and food establishments here in Madison County and surrounding areas that you may have not gotten a chance to visit. \

I chose the Dinner Bell in Berea for my column this week.

The owner and I had the most interesting chat the other day. I would like to share with you some facts about this establishment. It has been in Berea about 27 years. The present owner is Bob Stewart, who brings an interesting background he brings to this restaurant.

Stewart graduated from Berea College with a degree in hotel/restaurant management. He worked under the legendary Richard Hougen, long-time manager of Boone Tavern and author of a series of “Look No Futher” cookbooks.

Stewart later followed Hougen as Boone Tavern manager for several years. His efforts helped get Boone Tavern added to the historical register in Kentucky.

Upon leaving Boone Tavern, Stewart was co-owner and manager of Halls on the River before taking moving on to owner-operator of the Dinner Bell in Berea. At one time, he also owned and operated a restaurant in the Mount Vernon area. It burned down a few years ago, and Stewart decided not to rebuild and to concentrate on running the Dinner Bell.

Bob and I talked about several concerns he has about things which may affect his business. The alcohol referendum is one. He will not be putting any alcohol into the restaurant, even if the referendum passes. Stewart wants to keep his business as it is because he caters primarily to families. And, serving alcohol in his restaurant would also be just too costly.

He plans on changing some of his menus in the spring, adding several new selections.

However, his biggest concern is the rising cost of food. The Dinner Bell has not raised its prices in two years, but some prices will have to rise when the new menu comes out.

I do admire Stewart for buying food from area farmers. He believes we should buy our food locally, especially when farmers in our area grow such high quality produce. Plus, buying locally ensures freshness.

During this off-season, Bob said he really misses having tomatoes fresh off the vine.

He has shared three recipes that he serves quite often in the restaurant. I hope you enjoy them.

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