It may be stretching it a bit to say there's a restaurant empire forming in Eubank. But slowly but surely, the little community at the northern edge of Pulaski County is becoming a place to go to have a good nosh.
The Sip N Scoops Cafe is now open in the Eubank Plaza along North U.S. 27, a couple doors down from Eubank Pizza. Indeed, the two restaurants share the same owners -- Chris and April Robinson, Chicagoland transplants who have decided they not only want to call this area home, they want to help it thrive.
"We want to provide for the people of Eubank more options and betters choices, but also want to encourage folks from Somerset," said Chris Robinson. "It's expected when people are outside Somerset that they just drive to Somerset, and that's not a big deal. But go the opposite direction, 'Oh we never go that way.' It's only 10 minutes out of town! We're trying to give people a reason to travel to the community here to get great things and help the people who live here."
Robinson and his family were part of the famed "Ohio Navy," the group of northerners who migrate every summer down to the warm waters of Lake Cumberland, as were his aunt and uncle from Ohio. They would vacation annually at a cabin in Monticello, and "fell in love with" the area during that time.
But when Robinson and his wife April were out sitting on their porch, even after having put a lot of money into a "dream house" in Lake County, Ill., they found themselves considering their children's future, as well as their own, and realized Pulaski County was where they wanted to be.
"We gave up everything, we relocated our family, and gambled on ourselves," said Robinson. "We bought a business, and here we are 10 months later."
The gamble paid off, as Eubank Pizza has become a successful operations -- and not just for those living in the northern stretches of the county. It's also a destination for people eager to try Robinson's Chicago-style pizza offerings, largely unique in this area.
But the Robinsons soon realized there were more niches to be filled in Eubank.
"At the pizza place, we got a lot of reactions, people asking when we'd have salads, desserts, something a little more healthy," said Robinson.
Additionally, they're a family that "lives" for coffee all the coffee-themed decor in Snip N Scoops came from April's personal collection.
"It started with a love for coffee, and then we took the opportunity," said Robinson. "It took us almost eight months to get open, eight months researching, learning, developing skills, and building a restaurant."
Both Chris and April has been around the pizza business all their lives, but something like Sip N Scoops -- a cafe-type business -- was mostly new to them. Robinson admits he "wouldn't claim to be an expert barista," but he is nevertheless determined to succeed.
"We want to be the best at everything we do, whether it be pizza or coffee or ice cream," he said. "It's kind of who we are and what we're about."
Of course, the "Sip" in Sip N Scoop is the coffee, and the "Scoop" is ice cream, which the establishment serves in a variety of different flavors along with cookies and other sweet baked goods. Robinson is especially proud of the coffee they serve -- Sunergos Coffee, a Louisville brand that he described as a "Christian-based" company.
"They've formed a partnership with us. They're a very small outfit, but they're the best," he said, nothing that Sunergos has sent some of their people to Sip and Scoop and likewise, Sip N Scoop has sent employees to Sungeros to be trained. "They're invested in our success. ... We try to focus on a team atmosphere."
But coffee and ice cream isn't all there is. The cafe also has a menu full of breakfast, lunch, and dinner--type offerings, including a variety of sandwiches, wraps, and salads. For breakfast, biscuits and gravy are particularly a hit -- even if Robinson realizes he's making an audacious claim with them.
"We call them 'BTYG' -- Better Than Your Grandma's," he said. "I've been eating this recipe over 40 years. My grandmother made them every Sunday, and I always said if I have a chance to put them in a restaurant, I wanted to. It's a bold move, some guy from up north coming south and advertising biscuit better than your grandma's, but everyone who's tried them loves them."
Sip N Scoops Cafe has been open since July 7, started serving breakfast about two weeks ago, and lunch just this past week. He noted that the cafe has a drive-thru window -- "It's the first drive-thru in Eubank," he said. "We're making history" -- and that they bake everything in-house.
"Everybody who walks through the doors says, 'We need something like this (in Eubank),'" he said. "... We wanted to be a sustainable business. We didn't want to just have a coffee shop, or just be an ice cream shop. We wanted to be able to employee people year-round and provide service to the community of the highest quality without having to go out of the way and without paying any more.
"What we have at the cafe is the best ice cream we could find, the best employees we could find -- we're about service and service to the community," he added. "We wanted to focus on getting the best people we can get, and encouraging them, helping them grow and become leaders themselves. We're trying to grow out business, and in order to do that, we have to have a great team, and we're cultivating that team now. We truly believe that investing in our community and investing in our employees is an investment in ourselves. It's a long-term investment, but it's worth it."