CAVE SPRING – October 25th was the last day for Madison’s on Old Cave Spring Road. The next week they began the process of moving into the recently closed Back Creek Grill property at 6063 Bent Mountain Road, just five minutes away. They are aggressively hoping to reopen by mid-November, but owner Martha Minnick and her husband Dennis still have heavy hearts over the loss of the first place that they had put so much effort into.
Martha had originally desired to run a country store like the one that her grandmother once had in Floyd. She was teaching third grade and Dennis is a retired Marine. When they saw a for sale sign at 4602 Old Cave Spring Road on the building that was once Gerow’s, she approached the owner. “He was willing to take it off the market and let me lease it,” said Martha. “Dennis and I wanted to work together, so I quit my job teaching.”
With the help of friends and family, Martha began renovations on the property, investing about $80,000 into the process. They cleaned what once had been a smoke stained bar and painted using a bright theme of firefly orange and bullfrog green. She bought new tables, planted flowers in outside window boxes and created an outdoor dining area – Marie’s Garden – named after Martha’s Mother, who had recently passed away. Madison’s, named after Dennis’s father William Madison “Mac” Grisso, opened July 31st.
The Minnicks might have desired a soft opening last summer, but a rapidly growing customer base changed that plan. Finally, those on the south side of Rt. 419 had a warm and friendly family establishment where they could sit down for a nice hearty breakfast or maybe a cup of coffee and a homemade scone bursting with chocolate chips. Madison’s soon started opening for lunch, and by the beginning of October they were open for dinner on Friday and Saturday, and brunch on Sunday.
All their hard work and plans seemed to come crashing down when they received a letter a little over a month ago from the landowner of the property stating that due to his failing health, he was no longer going to use the building as rental property. The lease was up March 31, 2010 and they would have to vacate. According to Dennis Minnick, Martha cried the whole day after she received the news. Mid-October, the Minnicks approached a fellow poking around the creek and looking under the building. When they asked him what was going on, he responded that he was checking it out for a proposed sale to Kroger.
Word spread quickly among Madison’s customers and the owner of the recently closed Back Creek Grill, Jimmy Muscaro, offered his property to them for lease. “We felt so beaten down that we were trying to decide whether we wanted to stay in business or not,” said Martha. “Our customers tipped the scales for deciding to go ahead and move to the Back Creek Grill.”
Back Creek Grill closed on October 16th. Muscaro said that out of the three involved in the venture, one was retired, one had a full-time job, and he has another place that he is working on across town. “Three people treating a restaurant like a hobby just did not work out,” said Muscaro. “We could not give it the attention that it needed.” He added that the community had been very supportive and that since Madison’s has a good customer base already, they will be successful.
Working toward an opening by mid-November, the Minnicks, with family and friends, are painting their theme colors of orange and green. The property has an outdoor seating area which they hope to establish as the new “Marie’s Garden”. Customers began stopping in to ask if they could help. One of their regulars was so pleased that they would continue the restaurant that he told them “Christmas had come early for him.” Muscaro offered some equipment. The kitchen for the new Madison’s will be about four times the size of the old one.
Donald Guy Turner owns the property at Old Cave Spring Road. When asked what his plans were, he responded that he did not know at this point. According to the Roanoke County’s Department of Community Development, Kroger initiated a concept review in August 2009 proposing gas pumps on the property at Old Cave Spring Road. When confronted with this fact, the owner said “no comment.”