News: Neillsville - Schmitty’s on Main to Open (Dec 2013)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Harder, Schmitz, Copet, Vandeberg, Rodriguez

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 11/27/2013

“Schmitty’s on Main” Set to Open Dec. 3 (New Business - 2013)

Schmitty’s on Main Set to Open Dec. 3

Owner Darla Harder plans to open Schmitty’s on Main Tuesday, Dec. 3. She hopes her business will be an important addition to Neillsville, attracting more people to the Downtown Historic District. (Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)

By Todd Schmidt

One of Darla Harder’s goals in life is about to come true.

After working in the restaurant business since she was age 13, Darla is about to open her own operation called “Schmitty’s on Main” in Neillsville’s Downtown Historic District. The opening date is projected to be Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Darla sat down at the counter to share her story Friday as several family members and friends buzzed around cleaning, painting and assembling Christmas decorations.

She said about three months ago she decided with the support of her family to pursue the venture in the leased premises formerly operated as Doc’s Diner and more recently as Mid-Towne Café, which closed in August of this year.

The Schmitty’s on Main name is a memorial to her father Lamar “Schmitty” Schmitz, who passed away last fall. He and his wife Thelma owned a grocery store and restaurant called Mr. Schmitty’s (now the Golden Eagle restaurant) on Division Street in Neillsville.

Darla worked there for 10 years as a waitress and cook. Her brothers Dick, Dewey, Dean and Daniel, along with Reyne Copet, a foster child Darla considers to be a sister, also helped out in the store and restaurant. Daniel passed away at age 22.

“I wish my dad was here,” Darla said wistfully. “He is in heaven probably shaking his head saying, ‘what are you thinking.’”

Darla said her mom and brothers would be a great help supporting the venture in any way possible, along with her husband Grant and their children Rachel, Sam, Luke, David and Joe. Luke’s wife Jessica and their two children Dayton and Daisy will also be pitching in.

Darla and Grant were married when she was age 23. He had a diary farm near Christie, which they operated for a number of years.

“That was a full-time job, along with raising a family,” Darla said. “My parents sold the store and restaurant, and I felt bad because I wanted to take it over. It took a while, but I finally realized my dad was right when he said I couldn’t have handled everything at that point in my life.”

They eventually sold the farm. Darla worked part-time as a secretary in the Bruce Vandeberg Insurance office. In 2003 she began cooking at Doc’ Diner. After working at Doc’s Diner for five years, Darla moved on to the Neillsville Country Club, where she has worked as a cook until making the decision to open Schmitty’s on Main.

While at the country club, Darla gained experience doing banquets and preparing food for large groups. She hopes to put that experience to good use in her new restaurant, which has a 60-seat banquet and meeting room on the lower level and seating for 75 customers with a combination of tables, booths and counter space on the main floor.

Darla plans on working with a staff of 20 part-time and full-time employees. She will handle much of the cooking duties, along with full-time cook Jose Rodriguez.

Sam will learn the cooking trade. Rachel will be a waitress on weekends and will help train new staff. Jessica will fill in waitressing and Daevid will help doing dishes. Luke and Joe have other full-time jobs, but they will help as needed.

Grant is busy doing carpentry work. He has done a lot of tinkering in the restaurant, and for convenience, recently set up tools in the office.

Schmitty’s on Main will be fully decorated for Christmas when the doors open. Hours will be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The restaurant will stay open Saturday, Dec. 7, until 8 p.m., with free cookie decorating offered for children in the banquet room from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In the spring of 2014, Darla will look to expand the hours into the evenings and offer more menu selections.

Initially, Schmitty’s on Main will offer specialty sandwiches, wraps, homemade soups, complete breakfasts and a hot plate special every day. Thelma will be making fresh cinnamon rolls, along with coffee cakes and other dessert items. As time goes on, after-school specials featuring malts will be offered.

Darla said she would make an effort to use as much fresh food as possible, including organic vegetables grown by local vendors. Local dairies and grocery stores will be supported. She said with a smile that Grant’s home garden would be enlarged this summer.

It took a while to get the restaurant equipment up to and running. Arrangements have been made for a pop dispenser, coffee machines, a dishwasher and a credit card machine, much of it leased.

All the proper licenses had to be obtained. Darla said the restaurant license was subject to inspection.

“We have to wait for the inspection until all the food is in, which will probably be the day before Thanksgiving,” she said.

“Getting started was pretty much what I expected. I know this will be a lot of work. I’m very excited to get going and earn the support of the community. Hopefully, we’ll do an excellent job. First impressions are very important.”

For more information about Schmitty’s on Main, call 715-743-3750.

Family members participated in the first annual Lamar “Schmitty” Schmitz BBQ Cook-off during the Autumn Harvest Celebration held in October, Darla Harder, daughter of the late Lamar and Thelma Schmitz, announced she was opening up a restaurant on Hewett Street in Neillsville. Shown (l-r) are Duane Schmitz, Darla Harder, Thelma Schmitz, Dick Schmitz, Kayla Schmitz, Dean Schmitz and Reyne Copet. (Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)




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