Who looks at a vacant gasoline station in a tiny farming community and sees a home for a new restaurant? It might sound unlikely, but that’s what happened in Trenton, where Kentucky transplants Michael and Hannah Broyles have created the Black Sheep Bistro in the old Standard Oil station.
The building on U.S. 41 at Trenton’s main intersection sat vacant for more than 30 years. The couple saw some potential, had the building refurbished and created a business plan. Their menu is heavy on spicy, Texas-inspired barbecue but also features burgers, chicken, salads and sides like collard greens and jalapeno corn — plus pastries and biscuits for breakfast.
This is good news on several counts.
We applaud the fact that an old landmark building has a new purpose. The days of independent filling stations in small towns are likely gone for good. But every community could use a proper restaurant, and if it is housed in a building that’s got a history and some character, that’s even better.
Trenton’s population has been declining for several years and now stands at around 385, according to the last census. Many of its old institutions, such as the elementary school, have not survived modern changes. But Trenton has not lost its beauty. The old homes that line Main Street give it a Norman Rockwell charm.
A business like Black Sheep Bistro, which New Era Features Editor Melissa Larimore wrote about for Wednesday’s Food Page, could pump new life and money into Trenton. It could also serve as a place that helps preserve local culture and stories that are unique to small American towns.
If the restaurant is successful, we bet it will be because the food and atmosphere are good enough to attract a steady flow of locals and out-of-towners who are willing to drive 30 or 45 minutes for a nice meal.
Those out-of-town customers won’t come for the restaurant alone. They’ll also come because of Trenton’s allure.
We’re not in the habit of editorializing about businesses. But this one looks like a special case.
Independent businesses matter because they can help define the personality of a community.
Trenton is the kind of place that can thrive and shine if entrepreneurs like Michael and Hannah Broyles find their niche.
The restaurant and the town could be good for each other. That’s our hope.
Kentucky New Era