Local business serves up fine cuisine, good times

By Nathaniel Carr | Published Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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Time to Relax

TIME TO RELAX – Down the Alley Cafe on Main Street is now open for dinner and includes a beer and wine bar. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The wind blows through the surrounding trees, making the newly color-changed leaves fall down onto patrons below them.

People are sipping beer, drinking wine and gorging on homemade biscuits with tangy yet sweet barbecue sauce, burgers piled high with toppings and potato salad on the side. To go with with this fine cuisine are the sounds of a local artist. Musicians that by day are high school students or working-class citizens spend the night spreading their joy for music and having a good time with those around them.

This captures the essence of Down the Alley Cafe after recent changes.

Several years ago, Beth and Cary Hardin bought four lots off Main Street with the intention of creating an organic garden center like the one they owned in North Richland Hills. The business remained that way for five years, but the business it received wasn’t what they expected.

They adapted and found a different tappable market in the area, one they never attempted before.

“We had culinary gardens in the back out by the chicken coop. That was a culinary garden we had for us while we lived there, and we started feeding our garden center customers from our garden,” Beth said. “[We] just started making little salads, nothing much, just from the fresh produce we had back there, and that took off like crazy.”

The concept was a fresh approach for Decatur.

“Everything was on the highway, and we could tell from people’s reception that was what was lacking up here. Fresh food was what people liked,” Beth said. “We took a year, and for the first year we were a cafe and a garden center. And then we slowly got out of the garden center and went to a full-time cafe.”

Six weeks ago, the cafe added the dinner hours on Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“We strung up some lights in the back two lots, and added some live music and said, ‘Let’s see what happens.'” Beth said. “For nearly six weeks, the back lots have been packed.”

Residents have responded well to the changes. People can enjoy some biscuits and potato salad and maybe even reserve a spot on stage as part of a good night out. That is all that the Hardins want after all.

“I’m inviting the public to come into my backyard. That is my house; it was my home. I want to make it cozy, I want to make it fun, I want to make it different than anything in Wise County,” Beth said. “I want people to be able to sit down after a week’s worth of work, have a beer, have a glass of wine, sit down in front of the fire pit, and enjoy some food. When we created this, me and my husband, we wanted people to have a good time. If you don’t feel good, and you’re grouchy, maybe you will be better by the end of the night, maybe. You never know.”

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