Keith Long said there’s no secret recipe behind the success of his Sam and Ethel’s Restaurant, which was awarded the Best Downtown Business Award last week by the Downtown Tipp City organization.
“It is one of those things. I never gave it a thought because it is not necessary. We are just here doing our thing,” Long said when asked if he was surprised by the recognition.
Others, though, said that recognition was well deserved.
Restaurant staff proudly pointed to the plaque presented to Long at the downtown organization’s annual meeting Feb. 23. The plaque sat along a wall behind the restaurant counter the following morning.
In announcing the award, Andi Treziak of the Downtown Tipp City board said Sam and Ethel’s is a “well known and well loved place of business. It is a warm, comfortable atmosphere.”
Long bought the business seven years ago in November. “I just needed a change of venue,” the Tipp City native and Tippecanoe High School graduate, said.
He was familiar with the business. “At the time, it sounded like a great idea, so I said, ‘OK,’” he said, adding he’s “absolutely” glad he made the purchase.
Supporters said Long is known for his willingness to help others. Bill Jones, owner of neighboring business Browse Awhile Books, said Long refused to take payment for food for weeks following the fire that damaged the bookstore last summer.
“I was raised in Boy Scouts and my boys were raised in Boy Scouts and that is just what you do,” Long said.
He said he participates in downtown activities, but not as much as others. “I do what I can. I do what makes sense,” he said.
Long said he was involved in scouting until the bought the business, which included added demands on his time. He and sons Graham and Derek also have a newer venture, a Sam and Ethel’s food truck, which will hit the road in a few months for its third summer.
Also receiving awards during the evening were Leslie Trimbach, who was selected for the William Henry Harrison Award presented to a volunteer for the downtown.
“This year’s recipient not only owns a business but also makes our downtown a bit more colorful and more beautiful,” said board member Katie Sonnanstine. Trimbach uses her talents to provide “beautiful work to help with our events, our rebranding and our membership,’ Sonnanstine said. “We would look as good as we do without her help.”
Reed Spencer presented the John Clark Award recognizing an outgoing board member to Jim Valekis. Spencer said Valekis served two years as the Downtown Tipp City Partnership (now the Downtown Tipp City organization) and “stepped up big time” when the organization was making changes.
Valekis asked those attending the event to give a round of applause to the Tipp City community.
A brief review of 2016 activities was given by Ben Deacon, 2016 downtown partnership president, and an outline for the year ahead was presented by 2017 president Terri Bessler.
Deacon focused on the downtown organization becoming an accredited Main Street member through the Heritage Ohio organization. The designation was 10 years in the making, he said, adding, “It was no small feat. It should offer a lot of opportunity for town.”
Attending the annual event was Joyce Barrett, executive director of Heritage Ohio. She congratulated the organization for its entry into the Main Street program. “You are the people doing stuff … You are making the world a better place one town at a time,” Barrett said. “You give your talent, your treasure, most importantly, you give your passion to your downtown.”