After sitting vacant for several years, one Hillsboro couple is giving a facelift to an iconic downtown restaurant.
“It’s happening,” said Tony Dragoo, who is originally from Litchfield.
Dragoo bought the building in May 2019 that was a longtime home of the late-night restaurant, affectionately known as Greasies. He and his wife, the former Kari Walch, moved back to Montgomery County from Chicago, to be closer to family.
“I’d saved up some money to go to school,” he said. “And I’ve always loved cooking. This was just kind of a chance thing. We took a leap and have been blessed to have help from a lot of friends.”
The couple, along with help from a couple of Dragoo’s coworkers at Atlas 46 and other local business owners, have totally gutted the inside of the restaurant and have begun renovation work. They took the walls all the way down to the brick, and are currently working on replacing the floor.
Dragoo said his initial plan was to open a breakfast or brunch-themed restaurant later this fall, but that has been delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the amount of renovation work to be done.
“It’s been exciting,” Dragoo said. “We’ve been doing most of the work ourselves, so it takes awhile.
He said he has been enjoying hearing stories people share of their memories of the restaurant, including his own grandpa, who used to dine there after dances in town.
“I’ve just always loved breakfast restaurants,” he said. “Living in Chicago helped to broaden my horizons. And I feel like this could really be something special.”
Although his restaurant won’t officially be open for months, local residents may have already tried some of his favorite recipes. He and Isaac Reynolds served dope tacos at Black Rabbit Coffee in downtown Hillsboro during the month of December. He’s also created a handful of other treats, including french toast and sandwiches. The ongoing pandemic has kept him from trying anything new at this time, but he hopes to try out some other ideas in the future.
Although the couple still don’t have a name for the restaurant endeavor, they have been talking about menu items, including breakfast favorites, Italian beef, and he hopes to collaborate with Opera House Brewing Company on things like beer cheese soup or beer-battered onion rings. And he hopes to serve Black Rabbit Coffee as well.
“I just feel pretty lucky,” he said. “We came in at a pretty cool time in Hillsboro. We really haven’t heard anything negative, and have had lots of people helping us on the project.”