By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – Downtown Inn and Coffee Parlor was packed last Friday as customers enjoyed one last meal at the Main Street eatery. Proprietors Kira Rutherford and David Waggoner are closing the doors after operating the business since last August.
“I want to thank the people in Water Valley for letting us be part of y’all,” Kira said. “Everybody has been fantastic. We have enjoyed it so much, it is heart-breaking. If we could afford it, we would stay,” Kira said, explaining that an increase in the rent made her apprehensive about the winter months ahead.
“I can’t go through winter trying to stress about paying $1,500 a month,” she added. Since August the restaurant has been a popular spot for breakfast and lunch. The building also has a couple of hotel rooms in the back, but Rutherford said that part of the business is slow and the restaurant produces the bulk of the income.
After moving to Water Valley to be closer to Rutherford’s family, David and Kira are headed back to Wyoming this week. David plans to help a friend who works in the construction business and Kira will manage the kitchen at Paradise Guest Ranch, a dude ranch located in the Big Horn Mountains at Buffalo, Wyoming.
Regular customers Brenda Campbell and Linda Campbell were among well-wishers eating one last time.
“I love it, there’s a serenity about it,” Brenda Campbell said about the restaurant, adding they eat there almost every other day.
“It keeps me from having to cook at home,” Linda Campbell added. “I remember this building when I was a kid.”
The Downtown Inn building is listed for sale by Kessinger Real Estate Company, one of a handful of buildings currently on the market as retail space in town is limited.
Affordable rent in Water Valley has been one of the attractions for businesses in town, according to Main Street Manager Mickey Howley.
“There is a delicate balance, you want the rental rate low enough that local retail businesses can afford it, yet you need it high enough where if you own the building and rent it out, you can afford to take care of it,” Howley explained.
The Downtown Inn building includes an upstairs apartment and Howley noted that nice apartments on Main Street rent from a low of $750 per month to as high as $1,200. Howley also said the current rate for retail space is around $700 to $800 per month and some buildings bring more.
“I believe the best scenario is to have people own the building they operate in. And if there is a landlord, the landlord lives in Water Valley,” Howley added.