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New owner breathes life into former restaurant

By Meg Dickens
Freelance Writer

Lois’ Cafe was a beloved staple of Johnson County before it shut its doors. For a short while, the business continued to cater events, although it was closed to the public until further notice. No one was sure for how long until word came of something new. Another homestyle cafe has opened its doors in the closed-down building and will continue to supply the area with hometown cooking.
Jen Bumgardner opened the doors to Jen’s West Main Cafe on December 1, and people are raving about the food quality. Reviews so far state that the food is good, service is fast, and the staff is friendly. Bumgardner reports that the restaurant has been “crazy busy,” and the staff is adjusting quickly to meet the community’s needs.
For those concerned, there is no bad blood between the previous and current tenants. In fact, Lois Dunn is the one who came up with the idea for Bumgardner to lease the building at the end of October, according to
Bumgardner. After praying on it, Dunn reportedly decided she would like a similar business to bring life to the building and approached Bumgardner, who was born in raised in Johnson County and has been in the restaurant business as an owner for the past eight years.
“We want to thank our loyal customers for a lifetime of good memories and wish Jen’s West Main Cafe all the best as she opens today at the cafe,” Dunn announced upon her official retirement.
Repurposing what had become an unused building into something new is an ideal example of what could happen with the multitude of unused buildings within the community. This trend is slowly spreading as more people begin to purchase or lease these buildings and get to work. For example, the abandoned skating ring became Black Bear Wines and Spirits, while the former Army Surplus store is in the process of becoming a deli. Continuing on this path could lead to economic growth and increased quality within the Johnson County community. As part of continuing to grow, Bumgardner hopes to continue to add to the business in ways for the community, such as occasionally providing live music.
For more information on Jen’s West Main Cafe, including hours, menu, and more, visit its Facebook page or call (423) 727-8778.