Movin' Out: DBA holds last meeting at Judy's Kitchen; Gilreath moving restaurant to country club

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

July 30, 2008 - There were no tearful goodbyes or lingering hugs, but there were some heartfelt words passed this morning between friends who are parting ways, at least temporarily.

It was the last time the Sulphur Springs Downtown Business Alliance would ever meet at Judy's Kitchen, and there were a lot of "thank yous" bandied about between both the merchants' group and Judy Gilreath.

But it's not like they won't see each other again. The Downtown Business Alliance, coming off of its first Free Movie Night that brought an estimated 215 people to the city square, is as busy as ever. For now, they'll just move their every-other-Wednesday meetings to the council chambers at City Hall.

And Judy Gilreath isn't shutting down her business so much as heading in a new direction. Her new restaurant -- in partnership with two recent Hopkins County transplants who had a successful dining enterprise in Dallas -- will open Friday evening at the Sulphur Springs Country Club.

Gilreath isn't leaving the downtown area because she wants to. The building at 305 Main Street, which has been the home of Judy's Kitchen since she opened on Nov. 22, 2005, has been a comfortable setting, and she loves the ambiance of the downtown area.

But economic realities particular to her operation have made it difficult to continue, and the decision was recently made to move the business to the Country Club.

"Going to the country club is a little bit like a homecoming for me," said Gilreath, whose children grew up playing at the club, and where she and her late husband, Charles Gilreath, spent many hours on the course.

The new restaurant will be known as "Caf on the Greens" and is in partnership with Gus Trevino and Daron Humphrey, who recently sold The Nodding Dog in Dallas. They are also the people who have bought the old Nelson Corner Drug building -- which became a downtown institution under the ownership of Gilreath's family -- and investing a considerable amount of time, money and work to turn it into a new downtown destination.

"We may try to reintroduce some of the old gimmicks, like giving people a dollar off if they bring in their church bulletin for Sunday lunch," Gilreath said, recalling the days when Sulphur Springs Country Club was THE place to be for the after-church meal.

And a Sunday brunch/lunch is part of the original plan. Gilreath said they will begin serving on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting Sunday, Aug. 10. For now, the cafe will only be open in the evenings, starting this Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a "pasta bowl" affair. Patrons will be able to select from different pastas, sauces and toppings -- "something like a cafeteria line" -- to create their own dish.

Like the country club, the restaurant will be closed on Mondays, but Gilreath said the plans are currently to be open the other six days of the week.

She definitely has not ruled out a return to the downtown area, however.

"I love the country club," she said. "But I love downtown, too, and I'm looking forward to coming back to downtown. This is where we exist, is downtown."

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