Thursday, March 22, 2012

Smallville Town Talk: The Roller Mill...

Our place, which we've named Le Rustique, is situated between the two small towns of Owensville and Rosebud, about three miles from the first and about five miles from the latter. The whole area, which I fondly call Smallville, has a combined population of 3000 to 3500. In other words, just right.

Most folks around here are friendly as can be [someday I may tell you about the two I've met who are not] and very hard workers. Many of the locally-owned businesses are run by people who either also farm or have another job - or both. The Owensville Roller Mill is one such place.
A line drawing from the perspective of the back parking lot, the entrance most used by locals.
Built by two brothers in 1897 and using a steam engine to power the milling process, the state-of-the-art German technology allowed the flour and grain mill to operate quite a distance from the usually requisite stream or river. The mill has stayed in the same family for years, even surviving the Great Depression. The owners patented their own brand of Good Goods Flour, and one of the surviving original flour sacks hangs on the wall inside. One of the old mills stands as permanent greeter at the front door.
The old roller mill, retired from active duty, but still front-and-center.
I'm not certain when the roller mill ceased regular activity, but the building is still owned by a direct descendant of the original founders who now operates it as a very popular family restaurant. The scale that used to weigh out grain and flour is still in the same spot in the main room, and nearly everybody raised around these parts has weighed themselves on that scale, whether as a kid to document their growth spurts or as an adult to see if they'd put on a few pounds.

Mike, the owner, has plenty of support and assistance running the restaurant from his entire family. The night we first ate there, the eldest of his six children, his daughter MissA, was our highly capable waitress. The place was busy - very busy - but little MissA wasn't the least bit rattled.
MissA standing on the original scale installed by her ancestors.
She showed us to our table and explained every menu item on the big chalkboard hanging on the wall with barely a glance at it. She also pointed out all the family members helping that night. Her grandmother was tending bar, greeting new arrivals and quietly at the ready to help her granddaughter if called upon. Her grandfather was helping to wash dishes just to keep up with the big crowd. Her dad was a little bit everywhere, helping where needed and keeping his watchful eye on the well-being of the four of his children who were there that night. MissA's two younger sisters were double-teaming the entertainment for one large table of regulars with plenty of raucous laughter coming from that direction, and their little brother was acting as self-appointed game director at the basketball hoop set up just for kids.

Big Daddy and I both had the NY strip steak special, and I gotta tell ya, that's the tastiest and most tender steak I've had this side of the Rocky Mountains. But even more special than the steak was the concept that, in 2012, a man and his parents and his young kids can have so much fun working side by side in a demanding service business, make it successful, and still go back to their day jobs or schools the next day, smiling all the while.

And, as we're finding is often the case in Smallville, there is a connection between the Owensville Roller Mill and Le Rustique. Mike's ancestors who established and operated the Roller Mill for all those generations were the same ancestors of the man who built our farm house and from whose children we bought Le Rustique. So Smallville means more than just our little piece of rural America, to me it proves it's a small world out there, too.

If you're ever on Highways 19, 28 or even this section of 50 on a Tuesday through Saturday, take a side trip to the Owensville Roller Mill. Tell them you want to weigh yourself - before you eat!

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  1. I wouldn't want to break the scale!
    What a great place and a wonderful story. It's great when you can learn the history of your home. :o)

    Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

  2. You don't see places like that anymore!

  3. You can't get historic places back. Glad to see the old building still in use and has a family enjoying it's rewards.

  4. Love the history -- would be an awesome place to have a meal and weigh yourself! ;)

  5. loved this post. makes me believe small town america is still alive and thriving - and will continue to do so. :)

  6. Great post! I have always believed it's a small world...and it's nice to know it's still out there.

  7. What a lovely story. It sounds like you are really enjoying the simple life in the country.

  8. Charade we will have to try the Roller Mill! Always looking for good places for FOOD. You are sooooo close to us when you are at LeRustique. Are you familiar with Second Creek Farm?


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