Kevin and Dawn Stewart are not new to the idea of making lots of food for lots of people. They just aren’t used to being paid to do it.
The Stewarts are the new owners of The Cheddar Depot, located on the corner of Main and Homer Streets. It is said to be the oldest continuous grocery store in the county.
While they have loved making food for family and friends over the years, they never thought their dream of owning a business and doing it for a living would come true.
Kevin said the opportunity just fell into place this past winter when he was in the store talking to former owner Connie Benson. He said the idea was thrown out there and somehow it just felt right.
“It was just meant to be,” she said.
His father, Bert, owned Stewart’s Cafe and he grew up around the restaurant business.
“I was taught by my mom and dad,” he said. “We canned, pickled, gardened, cooked, did it all!”
Kevin said his mother taught him about hospitality -- don’t sit down until everyone has been fed.
He is looking forward to taking everything his parents taught him and putting it to use.
While Kevin and Dawn plan to keep the food items already served at Cheddar Depot, like the popular taco salad, they are excited to add some new options. One is a burger called “Junior” (named after his father, Bert Jr.), which will be made with locally raised beef.
Kevin is the second generation to be frying the burgers.
“And customers will get their choice of cheese,” he said. “We have plenty to choose from.”
Another option will be Burt’s Secret Pork BBQ, which only Kevin and his brother know how to make.
On the sweet side of things, they will be serving pies like the ones Kevin’s grandma, Margarite Zink, taught him to make. They will also have Dawn’s Divinity in the candy case.
In addition to their hand dipped ice cream, they will also be adding a soft serve machine.
“We will also be adding public rest rooms, a ramp, tables for dining and more picnic tables outside,” said Kevin.
He said the kitchen will be getting a major upgrade, including a new hood ventilation system.
Kevin said Connie is still helping some and making the transition much easier.
“We couldn’t have made the transition without her and the employees,” he said. “We will have the same staff and our family will be helping a lot, too.”
He said they have tried off and on for 42 years to have their own restaurant business, it just never seemed to be the right fit.
“This time, it worked out well for us!” he said.
Both Kevin and Dawn were born in Washington County. They have two children, Kyle and Kala (Ponder).
“I grew up coming to this store,” he said. “I never dreamed one day I’d own it.”