A menu that’s always in good taste

A menu that's always in good taste
Vermillion, the home of farmers and white collar workers, university students and hard-working wage earners, isn't known for haute cuisine.

There are restaurants in Vermillion that have developed a niche, however, offering everything from Mexican and Asian cuisine, to pizzas and burgers.

For a quarter of a century now, Jere Chapman, owner of the Silver Dollar, the Cherry Street Grille, the Roadhouse and Fox's Pizza, has helped put a good taste in diners' mouths.

In 1982, Jere and his wife, Jan began Recuerdo de Mexico on Vermillion's Main Street. "I sold that restaurant to Brian Steele several years ago, and it is still successful," Jere said. "If you look at the number of restaurants that were in town 25 years ago, you'd be surprised at the number that have come and gone, and the number that are still in business.

"We all know the restaurant business is a very fickle business, a very difficult business in which to remain successful," he said. "Even if you've been successful for 15 years doesn't mean you'll be successful for the next 15 years."

In 1982-83, the Chapmans opened their second restaurant venture in downtown Vermillion, the Homestyle Cafe. It was located in the basement of the building located at 6 West Main. On the main floor of the building, the Chapmans operated a separate eating establishment, the Pizza Pub.

"A year or so later, we combined both operations downstairs and called it the Pizza Kitchen," Jere said. "We ran that for several years and then switched that name to the Coyote Bar and Grill."

The Chapmans operated their downtown establishments until 1991, when they opened the Silver Dollar on Cherry Street.

In 1999, the Chapmans opened the Cherry Street Grille, located near the Silver Dollar on Cherry Street. On the other side of the street, Jere and Jan purchased and began operating what was originally called The Texas Barbecue. Today, it is known as The Roadhouse, reflecting the Chapmans' decision to change the menu and the concept offered at that establishment.

"In a small market like this, you had go through some changes," Jere said. "I stepped back and made some changes. If you're going to be successful, you better learn to listen to your local customers and adapt to what they want to buy.

"I think I've proven over the years that I've learned to listen, and I've learned to adjust," he said.

Jere's latest venture, Fox's Pizza, which is located in the back of the Silver Dollar, is making a small impact on Vermillion's restaurant scene.

Its sales may not yet match those of other pizza restaurants that have been established longer in Vermillion.

But Jere isn't discouraged. He recently opened a second Fox's Pizza establishment in Harrisburg.

"Obviously, I believe in the product," he said. "I think that Fox Pizza has one heck of a product. But my whole style has been to change and adapt."

Failure, he said, can be devastating to some people. Many entrepreneurs, however, see failure as a learning experience.

"You just go on from there," Jere said, describing his ability to adapt and remain successful in the local restaurant business for 25 years. "If I've learned one thing over the years, it's that tomorrow things will always get better. And they'll only get better if you change."

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