ST. MARYS — Three St. Marys natives are revamping a long-standing downtown restaurant.
Generations Cafe, formerly Miller’s, is in makeover mode as Memorial High School graduates Kyle Jones, Josh Owsley and Matt Slife changed the menu and set out to create a restaurant with locally sourced food.
Jones will lead the effort on the food front — the 15-year chef trained at the Orlando Cordon Bleu, before cooking at Versailles in Columbus and training under chef Alfonso Contriscianai. He had his first gig as a head chef at Lola and Giuseppe’s before working at the now-closed Cafe Veranda.
Jones said the idea of having some ownership in a place was attractive partly because he wanted a chance to provide better for his family, and partly to offer something different to local crowds.
Owsley will work the managerial side and Slife, who’s parents own the building, is the business and financial brain bringing the dream to life.
Owsley and Jones do some farming every summer and will grow herbs for the restaurant. They believe the quality of the food, especially when summer arrives and they have their fresh plants, will be a draw.
“It’s a little scary,” Jones said.
“We’re making everything from scratch. Today’s (Friday) our first day and some people aren’t happy.”
On Friday, Jones was whipping up a pecan crusted pork and butternut mascarpone. He said in the restaurant business anyone can set up a contract with a well known supplier and offer the same onion rings thousands of restaurants are serving.
“It’s a repetitive product, basically plagiarized food,” Jones said.
The three men are in it for the long-haul, with the hope that one day they’ll be able to purchase the restaurant.
They’re currently providing jobs to nine people. They’ve set up two live music performances at the venue, including Dean Axe and The Saturday Giant — a type of one man band best known for his hit The Fix. He uses a guitar and keyboard loop machine to build songs into amazing finales, Jones said.
The new logo is of a tree, roots digging into the ground, fed by a heart, and in a way it’s appropriate not just because of effort to make sustainable food that’s socially responsible, but also because this venture has brought the men back to their roots.
“I was cooking with my grandma since I was 8,” Jones said.
“There’s gratification when you can make someone happy with food.”