Sadly, The End of Home Cafe. Words from Chef Josh Poling.

We’re sad for Bowling Green but happy for Josh & ChelseyHome Cafe & Marketplace helped define the food scene in Bowling Green through the 2010s. We look forward to them taking a break and figuring out the next move. Maybe Josh will have time to write food reviews for us or make some videos where we just discuss food. Read Chef Poling’s Full Comments here: “I am rarely at a loss for words yet I have no idea how to start what I am about to write.

In August 2011 Chelsey and I opened the doors to Home Cafe & Marketplace. It’s been an incredible eight years and I’ve never felt so much that it was a job. We’ve been blessed by incredible support from the community, an unparallelled staff, and the best customers you can possibly ask for. I took pride in the style and quality of food we served, the way our staff believed and supported us, and the investment our guests made when they chose to eat at Home.

The food industry is full of challenges, but one of the biggest is how do you stay relevant over time when food trends, design trends, and everything else in the world is constantly changing. We knew it was time for a remodel and a small rebranding of Home Cafe, so we reached out to our friends at Rustic Nail. Kyle and his team laid out an incredible design to breathe new life into our beloved space. I also sat down with my friends at Sublime Media to discuss how were we going to tell this new story and how do we blend it with the old story.

I teased the renovations in a vague Facebook post on December 10. At that point we were deep in Christmas season at both restaurants so everything got pushed to the beginning of the year. Then, right before Christmas, the owner of Lost River Pizza Co. , Keith Coffman, reached out to me to see if I wanted to discuss selling the space to him instead of remodeling. I politely declined his offer and explained it was something we had never considered.

December 23 marked the end of a very busy Christmas season for both restaurants. Chelsey and I had been burning the candle at both ends so to speak. The peak was the Saturday before Christmas she left for work at 4 AM and I arrived home shortly after midnight that evening. That day–December 23– I did something I honestly can’t remember doing since I opened Home Cafe…I laid down and took a nap. I’m not a tired person. I wake up early and am 100% the minute I wake up. But that nap felt good. Really good.

Chelsey is a tired person. She wrestles with chronic sleep issues and had really neglected her personal health throughout the Christmas season. She slept until the early afternoon Christmas Eve finally catching up from the weeks long grind.

Christmas Eve night we had the discussion I didn’t think we would have for several more years. I asked Chelsey is she thought we should consider Keith’s offer. She looked at me and I knew her answer before she said a word. I had known the answer for a while actually. A man knows his wife. Chelsey is too prideful of a person to say some things out loud, but I knew the look, and together we knew the answer.

So December 26 I reached back out to Keith and told him it was something I would be willing to discuss and over the course of a couple of weeks Chelsey and I came to an agreement with Keith to sell him the property that currently plays home to Home Cafe.

There is a script in the industry for how these things go. You’re supposed to keep things quiet so you don’t lose customers or staff. Then one day your crew shows up and the doors are locked. We don’t believe in that. As soon as we were sure the deal was in place we notified our incredible staff of the news to ensure they would have plenty of time to find other employment. While the meeting was quite emotional for Chelsey and I, our staff was completely understanding and supportive.

I know and love my hometown, but I also know the way rumours like to run rampant here. That’s why I wanted to write this post. In a way this news is almost harder because this isn’t a money issue. Both restaurants are thriving. No banks are calling. No employees aren’t being paid. It’s just a business and lifestyle decision on our end. Keith will gain the additional space his restaurant needs and Chelsey and I will profit off the increased real estate value as well as recouping our equity in the building.

We don’t know what the future holds. We may move Home Cafe to another location. There very well could be another restaurant, but for the next year or two it’s going to be fun. We’re going to travel. Obviously go to Disney World. But more importantly we’re going to get to actually be present.

Two years ago my brother and his wife gave birth to the sweetest baby girl named Vivian and I want to be a big part of her life. And really be a part of it. Not just watching on social media. So we’re taking her to Disney World in November.

My mom turns sixty this year (sorry Mom), but we just booked a trip to celebrate with her in Cabo. My dad retired young last year and I would really enjoy some time on his boat with him. We want friends to be able to call us to go to dinner.

Our dearest friends are starting families and we want to be present with them also. We’re tired of invitations starting with “we know how busy your are…” Who knows…maybe we’ll even start a family of our own?

We are obviously over the moon excited about the opportunity, but it does come at the high cost of saying goodbye to the building that has defined our lives together. In the beginning Home Cafe was always the goal. Then it was starting Home Cafe. Then using Home Cafe to launch H&O. Through all of our seasons of life, Home Cafe has been the only constant, and man has it been fun!

We have started telling friends and customers about the sale. Everyone has been overwhelmingly supportive. Our dear friends and most loyal customers Kate West and Tyler West said to me this week, “Josh we LOVE Home Cafe, but we have always rooted for you and Chelsey.” They will never know how much I needed to hear that.

It’s funny to think while owning a business it is so easy to focus on the negative, but now that we are in our sunset days all I can remember are the happy times. I like to think Home Cafe made a big difference. I can remember all of the successes and all the smiles. We were so lucky to have the first eight years of our forever defined by Home Cafe, the people who worked beside us, and the customers we served on a daily basis.

It would be impossible to thank everyone. But a few BIG thank yous are owed to Gary SheltonRobert Mason, and Randy Bush. To Rian’s Fatted Calf Meat ShoppeCommunity Farmers Market Bowling GreenNeed More Acres FarmPeacefield, Kirby & Cindy Owens Poe, Preservation Tasting Room and Bottle Shop, Buy Local Bowling Green and all the vendors who helped make this such a special place for so long. To my parents who have supported us so much for so long.

A final thank you to Anne Lewis Garrett. There are no words I could possibly type. We will root for you always. No matter what.

I have asked Keith to allow us to stay open through Valentine’s Day so we can serve one last Valentine’s Day Meal at Home. So that will be our final service. It will be normal hours until February 14. We will serve our signature Valentine’s service February 14 and 15 and then we will roll up our knives and finish what we hope you view with us as such a beautiful story.

Thank you for reading, for the support, and for the memories.”


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