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For sale: Soup, sandwiches and a business

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McKinley’s Bread Shop and Deli will stay open while looking for new owners

By Lisa King

A restaurant that’s been part of the downtown business community for the past 18 years is up for sale, but the owners say they’re not planning to close their doors.

“We’re not going out of business – we’re not closing it – we’re trying to sell it,” said Teresa McKinley.

Teresa and Skip McKinley opened McKinley’s Bread Shop and Deli at 615 Main Street on June 28, 1996, and business has been booming ever since, she said, especially after the first few years.

“When we opened the business, we lived in Middletown for the first five years, and then after five years, we figured we were going to make it, so we moved out here,” said Teresa McKinley. “We had always wanted to move to Colorado, but now that we’re here in Shelbyville, we love it and we never want to leave. We bought our cemetery plots here last year, and we’re just going to live here, die here and be buried here.”

The shop is up for sale because the McKinleys want to retire, she said.

“We opened June 28, eighteen years ago,” she said. “We conceived it, we nurtured it, and now it’s eighteen and it’s time to go out on its own.”

She added that she hopes to find a buyer that wants to continue to operate the restaurant as it has been.

“We want to try to sell it to someone local that has in mind that they want to keep it the same,” she said. “The two people of interest that we have, that seems to be their interest, to keep it the same.”

Skip McKinley said he wanted to emphasize the fact that the restaurant will not close.

“We’ve had two or three inquiries, nothing serious at this point; we’re just gojng on with it until something happens,” he said. “We’re not closing the doors at all. We want to sell it as an ongoing business. But until that happens,” we’re going to be here.”

Taking over the operation of the business would be a plus for the new owners, because they wouldn’t have to try to build up their clientele, as McKinley’s has gained quite a reputation over the years.

 

Legendary chili, sandwiches

“McKinley’s is pretty well known,” said Teresa McKinley, adding that her chili is legendary among her regular customers and that people even come from other counties for some of the shop’s other specialty items.

“Everybody loves my chili; dad taught me how to make this chili when I was growing up and I don’t know how to make it any other way,” she said. “That’s what I’m known for. Our best selling sandwich is the McKinley [turkey breast, sliced apples, celery, walnut mayo dressing, lettuce]. People come from Lexington, Frankfort, Taylorsville, just to have the McKinley. A lot of men like the 615 sandwich [ham, turkey, salami]. People have asked me why we call it that, and we said, ‘because that’s our address.’ I give my staff credit for naming them [sandwiches].”

McKinley said she and her husband have been blessed with wonderful employees, Barbara Rogers, Donna Loch, Susan Everage, Shannon Vanhoose and Marla Hunter, who are very loyal and have been with them for many years.

“He’s [husband] basically the baker, and I’m the cook and the dining room organizer, but I couldn’t do a thing without my wonderful staff,” she said.

She said the employees have said they would like to stay on with the new owners.

McKinley said that being a part of the Shelbyville downtown business community for nearly two decades has been awesome.

“It’s been an amazing, humbling experience,” she said. “I’m amazed at how everybody helps each other and looks out for each other. Like, for example, if we leave our sign outside, somebody will stop and get it and bring in. Everybody just helps everybody.”

She applauds Shelbyville officials for everything they do to keep the downtown business sector thriving.

“Our major problem the first few years was parking,” she said. “Then this parking lot opened next door. I thank the mayor and Eilene Collins [Shelbyville Development Corporation director] for that. I want to give her a lot of credit; she’s really been on the ball in keeping the downtown Main Street vibrant.”

Said Collins: “I respect them highly and I also respect their decision to truly approach retirement. I feel like they have been such a tremendous asset to our downtown, and I look forward to someone else or some other family or couple coming in to carry on the tradition. That’s my hope, that somebody will come in and take it over and continue the fine reputation and tradition that they’ve established there.”

 

A transition to new owners

McKinley said she and Skip have put their heart and souls into making the business a success and that devotion has rubbed off on their employees and even the customers.

“They [employees] love being here and they love our customers, and that’s going to be the hardest thing for me personally give up – I love my customers,” she said. “It’s going to be hard for me not to see them all the time. But I’ll be around. I’m going to volunteer at church and at the women’s center, so I won’t be invisible.”

Walter Underwood, seated at a table with Neal Hammon and John Clayton, said he has been coming to the shop drinking coffee with them for many years.

“We come here at least twice a week,” he said.

The three said they all enjoyed having lunch at McKinley’s.

“They are great guys,” said Teresa McKinley.

That’s why it means so much to the McKinleys to have someone take over the business and keep their legacy alive, she said. The couple has children, but most of them live in other towns and have their own careers, so they are not able to continue the restaurant tradition.

McKinley said that she has been upfront not only with the employees, but also with the patrons that frequent the shop.

“Most of the customers know; that’s how one of the people who is interested in buying it found out,” she said.

“One of the people that’s interested in buying it asked if we would be willing to stay on and teach him in the transition, and my response was ‘absolutely yes.’ I couldn’t sell it and just walk away, and say, ‘here you go.’ It means too much to us. We both feel that way.”