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Family opens newest downtown restaurant, fills vacancy on Conner Street

Conner Station is a family business for Mark and Lynda Callahan and Shirley Woodrum

Since 2009, the southeast corner of Ninth and Conner streets has been vacant since Lake & Lodge Outfitters moved its store to Arcadia. Today, Conner Station celebrates one week since its grand opening, becoming the newest restaurant to open in the downtown square.

Conner Station, 917 Conner St., is a family partnership between Mark and Lynda Callahan and Alan and Shirley Woodrum, Lynda’s mother and stepfather. Opening and running restaurants is nothing new for the Woodrum family, who have been involved in approximately 20 businesses in Indianapolis and Hamilton County.

“We’ve been quite successful and I’d like to see them (the Callahans) be the same,” said Shirley. “They’ve worked hard all their life.”

Mark is retiring in May after serving 34 years as a Carmel firefighter and Lynda is in her 32nd year working for UPS. The Callahans said they opened Conner Station because they were ready for a new challenge and chapter in their lives.

The Basics

  • Conner Station Pub & Eatery
  • Address: 917 Conner St.
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to close Monday to Saturday, noon to approximately 9 p.m. Sunday
  • Phone: 214-7376
  • Web site: Facebook

“It’s nervous, but exciting,” said Mark. “We’ve always had an interest, but never had the time to sit down and do it. We had an opportunity and came in at the right time.”

“It’s been a very good experience. It’s our first business with Alan and he’s guiding us through it,” added Lynda. “We’re a close-knit family who are used to playing cards on Sunday. Now, we’ll be working together on Sundays.”

The family-friendly, smoke-free restaurant – described by Lynda as an “old railroad train station feel” – features exposed brick walls, rich wood floors and floor-length windows.

“Alan looked around and saw a couple openings, he peaked in the window and fell in love,” explained Lynda. “He had a vision, and as you can see, he was right.”

Conner Station is divided into a bar, which seats 70 people, and a dining room which seats 80 people. The bar features a wide variety of Indiana microbrewery beers, as well as national domestic types. Conner Station has entrances on both Conner and Ninth streets, along with parking spaces on both roads and a nearby public parking lot.

“We’re very accessible,” said Lynda. “The bi-folding front doors bring the outdoors in for us.”

Building’s History

Year Built: 1870s

History: This two-story building has a brick and limestone facade. The first-floor glass is uniquely framed in copper. In 1883, this building housed a variety store. Craycraft Dry Goods, begun by Daniel Craycraft, was once the largest dealer in Victor Victrolas in Indiana. Customers could try the Victor Victrola machine in soundproof rooms on the second floor. The dry-goods business was eventually inherited by his son, George Craycraft. During the Great Depression, he had young ladies throw dimes to customers from a second-floor balcony.

*Information provided by Noblesville Main Street.

Matteo and Emily DiRosa purchased the building in November 2008 with the plans to move Matteo’s Ristorante Italiano to the location; however, the DiRosas received favorable terms from their new landlord and decided to rent the location instead. Before making their decision, the DiRosas planned and began construction on the restaurant with contractor Dan McInnis.

“We designed it with our standards. Inside is the same – the color choices, finishes and style is different,” said Matteo. “Everything is brand new, except for the historic parts (bricks).”

“It took eight months for cleanup and removing the plaster of the exposed brick walls,” added Emily.

The DiRosas said the corner of the building used to be a bank and its giant iron safe is still located in the basement because it is too large to remove.

“The bar is (located) on top of the safe,” said Matteo.

The building’s rich history can be seen framed in old photos on the walls. In the 1900s, it was the Craycraft & Osbon building, which was the first place to sell RCA Victor Victrolas.

“It’s a new makeover for the building. It used to be a bank, grocery store, retail store and now it’s a restaurant,” said Matteo. “There’s been so much transformation in 140 years. I’m glad we are a part of it.”

The DiRosas said the addition of Conner Station does not add dining competition, but enhances restaurant options downtown.

“No one goes to the same place every night. We’ve learned people eat out three times a week, and with more options, people are more likely to stay in the area,” Emily said.

“It makes downtown more of a destination place,” Matteo added.

Head Cook Tom Sadler watches as Amanda Sjoerdsma weighs corned beef for sandwiches

Conner Station’s menu will consist of pub food with entrées ranging from $6.50 to $9.50, sandwiches around $7.50 and 14-inch pizzas for $14.75 to $16.75. Shirley will oversee kitchen operations and said the menu will include family recipes of comfort food and Black Angus burgers, chicken sandwiches, pizzas, daily specials, a kids menu and breaded tenderloins.

“Our tenderloins are the best without a doubt,” said Shirley. “When the order comes in is when they get hand breaded.”

Lynda said the signature burger is the Raspburger, a famous family favorite she grew up enjoying.

“We grew up on hamburgers topped with black raspberry jelly. People always think it sounds horrible until they try it and they are hooked on it,” Lynda said.

“They come with jalapeños, so you have the sweet and hot,” added Shirley.

Conner Station is open 11 a.m. to close Monday to Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday – closing times depend on the bar. While the bar will remain open longer, Lynda said the kitchen will be serving food until 10 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and 11 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. For more information, call 214-7376.

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