Family Builds a Renowned Restaurant with Help from the SBDC

Situation:

  • Larry and Jeanne Kirk had a dream to own a casual, full service restaurant specializing in traditional American cuisine with a southern flair.
  • The Kirks began to renovate a historical home in downtown Owensboro, KY that had fallen into disrepair.
  • The Kirks purchased the home in 2006 with plans to restore its former glamour, but just as construction was to start in 2007, a tornado hit. This caused extensive damage to the property.

Solution: How the SBA helped

  • The Kirks connected with Lois Decker, Center Director for the Murray State University SBDC in Owensboro. Ms. Decker helped them develop a business plan and financial projections for the business. The Kirks used this information to obtain an SBA 504 loan.  
  • Repairs and restoration took another two years. However, Ms. Decker helped the Kirks successfully open the restaurant in 2009.
  • As the business grew and incurred other obstacles, including a severe downturn in the economy, cash flow challenges, health care reform, the Kirks relied on guidance from the SBDC numerous times. 

Successful Impact/Outcome

  • Larry and Jeanne Kirk stated that “Lois Decker (at the SBDC) is one of the main reasons we’re open today. There’s no question; we couldn’t have done it without her.”
  • This is a family-owned and operated business. Larry and Jeanne Kirk work there daily. Daughter and restaurant chef Kasey Kirk Dillow developed an extensive lunch and dinner menu, Sunday brunch and extensive catering business. The menu offers local meats and produce and many Kentucky of the ingredients are Kentucky Proud®, certified as “raised, grown or processed in Kentucky by Kentuckians.”
  • Sales continue to increase, and the Kirks periodically check in with Lois Decker for advice on how to manage the profitable growth of their business.
  • The Miller House has expanded to 26 employees, including the restaurant and catering business. A significant number of employees have been there since day one.
  • The Kirks strong believe in giving back to their community. They select several groups each year for donations. Larry Kirk stated, “We spread donations around the community as much as we can each year.”
  • The Kirks also have a tradition of preparing 500 Thanksgiving meals each year to donate to those who might otherwise not have a hot meal that day.
Company Name: 
The Miller House Restaurant & Catering, LLC
Location: 
Owensboro, Kentucky