Saloon an oasis in Russellville
A quick glance down the main street of the tiny community of Russellville indicates what has happened to many small hamlets in our nation. It's like stepping back in time, and a deeper inspection reveals that there isn't much in the way of viable enterprise in this northern Putnam County town.
But thanks to David Goodnight and Kim Wallace, the Russellville Saloon and the adjacent Bee Hive restaurant have given Russellville residents a place for social gathering and interaction, in what otherwise could be be characterized as town on the decline.
Goodnight, a former Avon resident who now resides in Bainbridge, purchased the property for the saloon and eatery in September of 2007. The building is a massive, sprawling piece of property, built in 1890, that once housed, among other things, a hardware sore, a Masonic Lodge, a feed store and a basement barber shop.
About $100,000 or more in renovations later, a charming establishment exists, that Goodnight shared was once to be called Dave's Place.
But when Goodnight closed in on his opening date, he felt compelled to name the bar the Russellville Saloon.
"I had so many people in the community showing interest and wanting to know when we were opening, that I decided to name it after the town," Goodnight stated. The restaurant name also has local tie-ins. The Russellville school mascot used to be the Bees, hence the Bee Hive moniker.
Long-time local resident Kim Williams serves as Goodnight's manager and offered that, "The community has been very responsive."
Goodnight added that, "Business hasn't been too bad. We're surviving."
Wallace stated that the clientele at both establishments has been varied, and my visit seemed to validate that; along with working-class individuals grabbing an afternoon refreshment or two at the bar, several high school students were grabbing an early dinner at the restaurant.
The Saloon hosts Karaoke Night on Friday's and always features live music on Saturdays. Future plans include the expansion of the bar to include a stage/dance area, an outdoor beer garden in an adjacent alley area, and including a garage behind the property to be used for poker rallies for motorcycle and ATV clubs.
The Bee Hive serves traditional fare, and specializes in Prime Rib on Friday and Saturday nights.
Goodnight added that his cooks were, "out of sight," including his head cook, Joyce Austin.
Wallace shared that she hasn't done a great deal of external advertising for the establishment, relying instead upon word-of-mouth recommendations that seem to keep both the saloon and restaurant humming with business.
All small communities need a gathering place where neighbors and friends can share their lives. Goodnight's venture, up to this point, seems to serve that function nicely for the citizens of Russellville.