by Myke Feinman Managing Editor
Odell’s Cafe 110 West provides customers with a rustic, retro atmosphere including a juke box for dancing, a counter, and dining tables plus a party room with the capacity to seat 70 patrons. The restaurant opened for business Sept. 16 at 110 W. Tremont, across from the grocery store and next to Joan Bullard Realty. Becca Battle, owner operator, said she has been working in the restaurant and hospitality in food management positions for several years, recently working at Victory Lanes in Dwight. “I figured it was time to move on,” Battle said. “It was time to stop solving other people’s problems and start on my own.” The decor is “rustic,” as she describes it. “We went and found pallets, and left the original brick. It has a retro diner feel to it,” she added. The restaurant currently serves breakfast and lunch, open Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday and Friday 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. On weekend evenings, the restaurant serves pizza. “We do everything homemade,” she said, “soups, sauces, hand cut fresh fries, and the burgers are freshly ground and hand pressed.” Cupcakes are made for the restaurant by Catie Wilkey of Odell. She is also seeking a person to make ice cream and pies. She said her first month open has been busy, but business slowed down with farmers still in the fields. “The community has been very welcoming,” she said. The business took a little longer to open than she expected. “We purchased the building and it took three months to get it up to opening our doors,” Battle said. “That was the biggest pitfall,” she said. “It took much longer to open.” She said she is also looking for another full-time cook. “We need extra help to expand,” she explained. Due to the lengthy remodeling, she said the menu was put together “by the seat of my pants,” at the last minute. Evening selections will increase as she hires another cook.
By Myke Feinman Managing Editor
Del and Docia Hancock believe a career spanning more than six decades in the retail jewelry business in Dwight is long enough.
“When we first started in the jewelry business, it was considered a ‘no-no’ for a jewelry store to offer discounts,” Del explained. “Now, it’s a necessity.”
He said back in the 1950s, jewelry stores offering discounts were considered to be in bad financial shape.
The couple opened Hancock Jewelry’s doors at the former Klingler’s’s Jewelry store where he stayed for nine years, then moved to the current location at 112 E. Main Street in 1963, purchasing the business from Harold Lewis. Harold was the son of E. B. Lewis who originally occupied the space in Downtown Dwight going back to 1902. So the location has been in continuous operations as a jewelry store for more than a century.
Del, a native of Marion, Illinois, jokes his career started in the jewelry business from raising baby pigs as a young boy.
His first lesson in entrepreneurship was to feed and care for the baby pigs. He constructed a cart to attach to his bicycle and trekked around town looking for food scraps to feed his pigs.
It just so happened that the barn where he was housing the pigs belonged to the jeweler in Marion who was able to see first-hand Del’s work ethic feeding and caring for the pigs in the barn.
One day Del was asked if he would like to apprentice at the jewelry shop and even tually Del attended Bradley University to obtain his degree in horology, the study of time keeping in 1951. From 1952 to 1954, he was in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
At that time, he was a square dancer and met his future wife, Docia, who at the time was a secretary working at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. She is a native of Cumberland, Kentucky.
The couple married in August of 1953, and after settling in Dwight the next year, were named the Dwight Centennial new Bride and Groom.
When the Hancocks started in business, a big part of their trade was in glassware and china. But the freight on those items became expensive and the demand dwindled so the store no longer carries those items.
But the primary products such as rings, wedding bands, clocks, and other personal jewelry continues to be on display at the shop.
The couple had two boys, Randy who grew up to operate the Hancock Jewelry store in Morris. Randy died of heart failure in 2004 and the Morris store was sold in 2005.
Their other son, Jamey, is an internal medicine physician, pediatrician and has adult patients.
Del said another doctor said that means Jamey is a doctor for the patients “from womb to tomb.”
Over the years, Del and Docia have been very active in the Dwight community, including both teaching classes at Sunday School for a quarter-century and Del holding such offices as Dwight school board, president of the Chamber, and a past Master at the Masonic Lodge.
“I’m a has been,” Del said. “I has been everything,” he joked.