RES­TAU­RANT

The Covington News - - Front page -

and the equip­ment is be­ing sold. The store will sell its last meal July 10 and the fur­ni­ture store will close its doors for good July 15.

“Say­ing good­bye to our cus­tomers is hard. We’ve got­ten to know ev­ery­thing about them and see their lit­tle ba­bies grow up,” said Dianne Duren. “When we tell peo­ple we’re clos­ing, some of them start cry­ing. You don’t re­al­ize how much the store meant to them un­til you tell them you’re clos­ing.”

The Durens are clos­ing up shop for the same rea­son as most small busi­nesses, the slow­ing econ­omy. Dianne said the lunch busi­ness has been way down re­cently.

“We wouldn’t see peo­ple for a while, and they’d stop by and say we’re still around, but we lost our jobs or we have to bring a bag lunch to save money,” she said.

Harold said they were able to re­main open longer than many be­cause of the two di­verse busi­nesses un­der one roof.

“We had never been in the food busi­ness be­fore. But the two busi­nesses com­pli­mented each oth- ers, be­cause the hand­made fur­ni­ture brought a coun­try look to the old time soda foun­tain. Also, if busi­ness for one of them would slow, the other one could carry us,” he said.

The de­ci­sion to close was tough, but made much eas­ier by an of­fer from a fel­low square busi­ness owner. One day, this owner heard Harold talk­ing about re­tir­ing, and she of­fered to buy the equip­ment. Dianne said the new owner asked to re­main anony­mous, be­cause she has spe­cial plans for the store; Harold said the new busi­ness would be along sim­i­lar lines.

“Some­times when you need to make a de­ci­sion, the de­ci­sion is made for you. She made an of­fer we couldn’t refuse,” Dianne said. “We prayed for guid­ance and thought maybe this is the sign.”

In ad­di­tion to be­ing a fa­vorite lunch spot for res­i­dents, par­tic­u­larly lawyers on the square, A Touch of Coun­try also houses mem­o­ra­bilia from two of the more fa­mous tele­vi­sion se­ries filmed in Cov­ing­ton. Jo McLaney started the mu- seum, but most of the old pho­tos, posters and items are now owned by Anne Wo­mack. Dianne said she ex­pected the mu­seum to move, but its fu­ture was un­de­cided.

The mu­seum has been a draw for tele­vi­sion fans from around the world, as far away as Aus­tralia, Dianne said.

Cus­tomers will miss the Duren’s pop­u­lar home­made chili and their Frito pies and Frito sal­ads. They’ll also miss the soda foun­tain fa­vorites that have been around since 1924, like milk­shakes, choco­late so­das and le­mon sours. In a lot of ways, the menu was cus­tomer cre­ated, Dianne said.

“We added items as peo­ple re­quested them. If we didn’t know how to make some­thing, they would bring us a recipe,” she said.

Harold will con­tinue his fur­ni­ture mak­ing and home re­mod­el­ing busi­ness, which will keep the name A Touch of County. The web­site, touch­esof­coun­try. com, will also re­main and the Durens in­vited peo­ple to e-mail them with ques- tions or com­ments at durenh@bell­south.net. De­spite mov­ing back to what he’s al­ways loved, Harold will miss be­ing on the square.

“When I first moved here, I never would have guessed this corner would have been that im­por­tant to peo­ple. But Phil Stone told me re­cently that one of the hard­est things he ever went through, be­sides his folks pass­ing away, was clos­ing City Phar­macy,” Harold said. “You get to know so many peo­ple through this. I can re­late to that now.”

13 good years:

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