I had a couple of days off after a busy holiday weekend last week and spent the first few minutes of my first day back hanging out in the parking lot at Meade Station Plaza with Ron Elliott, who was greeting his regular customers at The Lunch Bucket and telling each, “I sold out!”
We were only out there a few minutes before the new owner arrived and welcomed everyone inside for a sneak peek at the changes in preparation for Friday’s grand reopening. And, the changes were immediately noticeable as the former restaurant space now serves purely as the kitchen, storage and office area, with tables now awaiting customers at the next-door space — providing seats for nearly 50 diners.
“I’m a Carter County girl,” said Stacy Burke, who now owns The Lunch Bucket along with her husband, Dwayne Burke, explaining she was born in Olive Hill but spent most of her time in Grayson while growing up. A 1994 graduate of West Carter High School (“but all of my friends went to East Carter,” she noted), Burke said she discovered Rajah’s and The Lunch Bucket about five years ago and has been a loyal customer since. She proudly points out veteran kitchen manager and recipe-maker Judy Elliott shared all of her formulations with the new staffers, and even worked hands-on with them to make sure they can continue to deliver the tastes longtime customers have come to love.
“We’re keeping the same menu, but adding some things,” she said, adding there will be hash browns “scattered and loaded, any way people want,” as well as a broccoli and cheese casserole on the lunch and dinner menus.
“The cole slaw is staying exactly the same,” she said, smiling as she explained she received Elliott’s instruction to make the side dish correctly.
Burke said she planned to spend the rest of the week formulating additional menu items, which will likely include baked steak, stuffed pork chops, baked chicken and pot roast.
“On Sundays, we will be making chicken and dumplings. Rolled-out, sliced, homemade dumplings,” she said, advising the entree will be available as of next week. “That will be a for-sure thing every Sunday.”
Other changes will include a bigger patty for the former Rajah Burger, which is served with sauteed mushrooms and topped with Swiss cheese, and Burke plans to consult with her cooks to determine additional tastes in the days ahead. With no plans to change the name of the place, Burke said her primary goal is to maintain a family atmosphere at a family business focused on old-fashioned favorite foods. In addition to Burke, the staff will include her sons, Austin Smith and Derick Smith, as well as her young daughter, Kasey Burke.
“Kasey wants to be my little waitress. She’s 5,” Burke said with a chuckle, adding her daughter will serve as social director at the new business. Burke’s aunts, Kat Blanton and Betty Sherman, will also be on duty, as well as family friends Mary Wells and Sharon Green.
“I want everybody to feel they can come in here and let us cook for them, and to feel at home when they come through the door,” Burke said.
The Lunch Bucket will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, including catering options, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (606) 929-5222.
A relatively new business in Ashland has also become a bit of a tourist attraction as people have enjoyed inspecting the Amish-built cabin at 1712 13th St. Amish Cabin Co. owner Linton Wells recently passed along a note about the second cabin to be placed on site, and invited a reporter to talk with himself and father-in-law/sales manager Lew Ferguson about the products they sell.
“These cabins are not only model cabins, they’re also portable sales inventory,” he said. “We now have a 14-by-36 Appalachian model cabin (one bedroom, one bath, a loft/kitchen, full-length attached porch) and a 14-by-40 Cumberland (two bedrooms, one bath, two lofts/kitchen, partial porch).”
Wells said the cabins, and related items such as solar-power panels, generate substantial interest from baby boomers who are looking to “downsize, declutter and control costs of living,” who appreciate the sustainable building practices used in the construction as well as options such as solar power for “off-grid” living. The cabins are also beautiful, he said, and are built by people who have a great reputation for craftsmanship.
For more information, visit the Facebook page, amishcabincompany.com or kentucky-cabins.com or call (606) 922-8401.
An angel at Mary’s
Local Red Cross director Vicki James was in the newsroom last week to give another reporter an update about those displaced after a recent weather incident with winds that tore a section of roof off the Castle Apartments on Winchester Avenue. As she talked about the ways locals always come forward to help others during tough times, James also spoke about how local business owner Allen Bocook had stepped up to take care of the residents.
Bocook, who owns and operates Mary’s Kitchen Catering in Ashland, was working on a church project across the street from the damaged apartment building, James said, and took it upon himself to provide hot meals for those whose homes were destroyed until they could be relocated or allowed to return to their spaces. James said she had never met Bocook, who simply walked up at the scene and volunteered to take care of everyone.
“I said it was like an angel appearing out of the darkness,” James said.
For more information about Mary’s Kitchen Catering, call (606) 465-8588.
Tudor’s is coming
I know a couple of people who are taking extra trips along Winchester Avenue just to watch the progress of the renovation project at 2778 Winchester Ave., where a former Wendy’s location is being transformed into a new Tudor’s Biscuit World.
I’m expecting a call back from the marketing director for the official word, but “word on the street” is the new restaurant will officially be open for business between Sept. 23 and 30.
Someone was talking to the boss last week and asked him to ask if I could let people know a longtime downtown Ashland business, Elite Catering, has moved and is still ready to serve customers’ needs.
Elite Catering, which was doing business in the former Ashland Oil building on Winchester Avenue, is now at the former Monty’s Pizza space on 16th Street. For more information, call (606) 324-2655.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at (606) 326-2651.