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Local Owners Enjoy Operating Sister Establishments in Bourbon

Writer / Julie Yates
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell

Legend has it that the town of Bourbon was built when it was certain that railroad tracks would be laid to its area. Another bit of trivia – its motto is “Small Town, Big Heart.” In the 1850s, many of its first settlers came from Bourbon County in Kentucky,Bourbon Hometown Diner where, at the time, there were more than 25 distilleries. All this lore makes Bourbon the perfect home for two establishments – Bourbon Hometown Diner and Journey’s End.

Jim and Kim Kephart recently assumed ownership of the businesses, which are located in a historic building right next door to each other. Although both have a separate door and individual space, they share the same kitchen. While Journey’s End is a fun and lively place to savor an adult beverage, Bourbon Hometown Diner has a family- and kid-friendly atmosphere.

“We’ve owned them since November of 2021,” Jim Kephart says. “When we first saw they were for sale, it was under contract. Then, 30 days later the contract fell through. Over the years I’ve owned five businesses. I’m the one who’s usually up for adventure and my wife is the conservative one, but when we learned it was up for sale again, she was the one who wrote the check.”

“We think the building used to be a place that housed horses,” Kephart continues. “There is a manual elevator in the back. It looks like it was used to raise up hay to the second floor. After that it might have been a barbershop. When we bought, the business had been a restaurant for 20 years. It had been owned by a father and two sons. We were able to keep all the employees. They are local and had worked there for a long time.”

Step by step, Kephart is enhancing the appearance of the two spaces and making needed structural improvements. He applied for and was granted financial assistance through the Facade Grant Program. Inside, the walls and hallway have a fresh coat of paint. The word is getting out to surrounding areas that the establishments are under new ownership.

“We have people starting to come from Plymouth, Bremen, South Bend, Warsaw and Rochester,” Kephart says. “Kim’s a mom of five and she’s a good cook. She’s developed a half-pound Triton burger with a sauce in the school colors. She’s got other ideas and we have specials that aren’t on the menu. Our son also cooks. There’s lots of good, home-cooked food.”

Kephart feels that you can’t have a bar and eatery in a town named Bourbon without paying homage to the beverage. On the Journey’s End side, in addition to pool tables, there is a Bourbon cabinet that Kephart had custom made. It’s filled with a collection of high-end Bourbon.

Bourbon Hometown DinerThree varieties are of special interest. Horse Soldier Bourbon is produced by veterans who fought together against the Taliban. Hooten Young whiskey is the result of a partnership between Tim Young and Norm Hooten, the actual “Hoot” who inspired the movie “Black Hawk Down.” Responder Bourbon was founded by a group of police officers. A portion of sale profits are donated to first responders.

Menus for the month are posted on Facebook. Featured dishes include meatloaf, country-fried steak, Swedish meatballs and pasta dishes, just to name a few. Brown-bag delivery from the sandwich menu is available, with a minimum of two orders, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Several weekly activities happen at Journey’s End. There is trivia on Tuesdays, and Fridays feature Karaoke. On Saturday nights there might be live bands or open-mic nights.

The Kepharts are glad to assist their vendors and beverage distributors with fundraising promotions. Bikers doing runs for charity are always welcome to stop in. On Veterans Day, vets get a free drink, and Triton School Corporation employees have been treated to free burgers.

“We love it,” Kephart says. “We have a great staff. Our biggest surprise is how much the town of Bourbon supports us. They thank us for being owners that care. It’s a place where everyone knows each other.”

Bourbon Hometown Diner is located at 116 North Main Street, and Journey’s End is located at 118 North Main Street, in Bourbon. View both on Facebook for menus and upcoming activities. Call 574-342-0123 to reach both establishments.Bourbon Hometown Diner

2 Comments

Alan Paschal
October 28, 2022 at 5:22 pm

Some have come from as far away as Florida, Virginia, Vermont, Texas, etc. Albeit a school reunion near by brought us all back back together. I can’t wait to return…the Tenderloin Sandwich was great.

Lois Trowbridge
October 29, 2022 at 3:59 pm

Even though I’ve moved away I still come back for coffee with my buddies. Love my Journeys End.

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