The cozy, little restaurant at the corner of Washington and Indiana streets (officially 2 W. Washington St. on the corner of the courthouse square) in Greencastle has been sold by Lynda Dunbar, who started it around the corner as Treasures in the Cellar in 2005.
The business became Treasures on the Square a year later when she moved operations into the historic, Rex Call-owned building that was the site of Eli Lilly's first drugstore.
Just this past July, Dunbar decided the name needed to better reflect the nature of the business, which had become food and drink rather than gifts, and Downtown Deli was established as its new name.
But after a tough summer with ongoing downtown construction limiting access to the building and parking in its vicinity, Dunbar felt it was time to end the project.
"I decided it was time to close," she said. "Really it was family economic reasons mostly for me with my family circumstances and having a son going to college. It's really not because of my job at City Hall (where she is city clerk-treasurer), although that's what people seem to think."
Ever since hinting that she was planning to close before year's end, Dunbar has had reservations about shouting that declaration from the rooftops and held out hope she could interest someone in buying the business.
That someone is Joe Garrison of Greencastle, who is becoming a downtown business tycoon of sorts. Besides taking over the Downtown Deli (and likely changing the name to the Downtown Café shortly), Garrison is also in the process of moving his Greencastle Furniture store from its Indiana Street location in the old Horace Link building to the old G.C. Murphy storefront that last housed Bright Futures at 12 E. Washington St.
Both businesses will be opening on Garrison's watch on Jan. 2. Both businesses will be in former storefronts used by Bright Futures. And each business will be a next-door neighbor to Starbucks, which has evolved into the land of opportunity for commercial interests on the square.
"I had several people interested in the business," Dunbar said, "but Joe actually stepped up to do it."
With a transition period over the next two weeks and a name change likely on Jan. 2, "it should be pretty seamless," Dunbar said.
Garrison is bringing in Carrie Jones of Russellville to run the café but the rest of the employees, the menu, the ambiance and the catering should remain the same.
Dunbar says she has no regrets and would "absolutely" do it all over again.
"The only thing I would have done differently," she said, "is I would have taken the gifts out sooner and made it a café a little quicker. We saw a nice little increase when we changed the name and people realized it was a café."
Garrison, who has lived in Greencastle since coming to the Banner Graphic in 1998 as a sports writer and page designer, said the restaurant "is not something I ever thought I'd get into."
"But I like the charter of the place," he said, "and the food, and I didn't want to see it end."
His newfound business sense has come about since he retired from the Army National Guard as an infantry officer. Since an initial tour of duty in Panama during the 1998 invasion there, Garrison has made four more combat tours, Desert Storm/Desert Shield in the Gulf War, in Bosnia as one of the first American soldiers on the ground there, and two combat tours in Iraq.
"So I've been in the trenches," he smiled.
"Then he's in great shape," Dunbar grinned in response, obviously knowing the battles ahead of the new owner.
Other than the name, Garrison doesn't anticipate many changes to the café.
"Little tweaks," he suggested. "I didn't want to buy it and flip it or make major changes. We'll keep the employees and the menu and the quality.
"I'm just glad to see it not end, it's a really neat place."
"I'm glad to see it not end, too," Dunbar added, noting she really wasn't going to actively try to sell it as much as she just planned to close.
"But Joe saw how disappointed people were that we were going to close," she said.
Meanwhile, Garrison continues to work on the furniture store with triple the space now available (plus a workshop in back) at the Washington Street location for his new, used and antique furniture offerings.
"Buy, sell or trade, that's our motto," he notes.
The furniture store opened March 1 at Indiana and Walnut streets as "a test run," Garrison said, just to see how it might do.
"It's exceeded my expectations," he smiled, hopeful the new location will offer even more visibility for the business as he builds on his downtown entrepreneurial skills.