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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Swizzle Stick filled to the brim with style

Monday, January 12, 2009

Almost Home Restaurant owner Gail Smith pours a drink inside her new bar The Swizzle Stick located next door to the award-winning eatery on the square in downtown Greencastle.
Restaurateur Gail Smith's latest venture is bound to be a smashing success. Sleek and sophisticated yet warm and overflowing with style and charm, the new Almost Home's Swizzle Stick is the perfect spot for a before dinner drink, an evening out with the girls, or an after work meeting with friends. And, it's right here in the center of Greencastle.

The new bar offers over 50 specialty martinis from a Berry Sunshine Cosmo to a Chocolate Kiss as well as cocktails like a "57" Chevy, Blue Lemonade and Vanilla Vixen.

Sandwiches and appetizers are available in The Swizzle Stick along with live music on Saturday nights. Two large wide-screen televisions hang on either side of the handcrafted oak bar filling the back of the room.

With walls made of exposed original brick, a tin ceiling, lighted stained glass over the entry-way foyer, dark green walls, comfortable seating and soft lighting this bar is an inviting oasis.

An avid Chicago Cubs fan, Smith attended 25 games last season. She has dedicated a section of the restaurant to her favorite baseball team.

"One of the people repairing the brick walls (James Heavens) is a cardinal fan. He buried a cardinal t-shirt in one of the bricks; I think he was trying to curse the Cubs. It won't work," she laughs.

Smith owns the award-winning Almost Home Restaurant and Final Approach Bistro and opened The Swizzle Stick on December 19. She is a firm believer in buying and shopping locally.

After purchasing the building on the west side of Almost Home, she began a three-month renovation using local labor and products from Putnam County businesses.

"The only things in here that I couldn't get locally were the bar equipment and lighting. They came from Indianapolis," said Smith. "It's so important to keep things local. My bricklayer, electrician, heating and cooling people, lumber and hardware suppliers were all local people."

When the building next to Almost Home went up for sale she didn't think much about it. But as time went by an idea began to tickle her mind. She spoke to her banker, lawyer and accountant.

"They all told me to go ahead. I bought the building. Of course, that was before the economic crunch hit. I'm just trusting that people in the community will support me like they have in the past," said Smith.

Smith started out 18 years ago with a partner running a small tearoom. After six years her partner left and Smith bought the historic brick building on the square in downtown. Almost Home was born and she captivated people all over the county with her cuisine.

She won acclaim at the Taste of Indiana event by twice winning the Peoples' Choice Award and Best Dessert honors. Her mentor and friend Almost Home Pastry Chef Thursa Evens won a Golden Whisk Award in 2007 at the age of 80.

As a love of Almost Home's exquisite pastries, soups and entrees enticed patrons from all over the state, Smith found she needed more space.

She bought the building on the eastside of Almost Home. She added tables but could only seat and serve about 60 people.

In 2007 she formed a partnership with Art Evans, President of Dixie Chopper and created The Final Approach Bistro inside the Dixie Chopper Business Center at the airport.

This not only allowed Smith to present a little different style of cuisine, but now she had room to cater for groups of up to 300.

With 56 employees and three businesses to run Smith is a busy woman. She is clearly a success. And, after living in the community for over 30 years she is a pillar among small business owners in Putnam County.

"I love this small town life. I have no idea what lies ahead of me. I'm just enjoying the ride. It is challenging right now. We are all facing economic challenges. Business in the restaurant has been down between 10 and 20 percent. But, people have to eat and hopefully they will eat and drink here," she said.

The Swizzle Stick opens at 4 p.m. There are specials from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Smith offers a five o'clock special, a girl's night out, Wednesday half-price martini special, wine tasting, board games and plenty of fun.

Almost Home and The Swizzle Stick are located at 17 W. Franklin Street in downtown Greencastle. Call 653-5788 for information or visit them online at www.almosthomerestaurant.com

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WOW!! I sure do wish I lived near enough to check this sweet place out. Sounds like Gail has quite the business savy and know how. As does her sister, Jamie. Must run in the family. You go girls!!!

-- Posted by buckwheatmom on Tue, Jan 13, 2009, at 10:21 AM

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