Fund started for Ethan restaurant
By CHRIS MUELLER The Daily Republic
ETHAN -- Two area residents have started a fund to help the owners of Ethan's only restaurant bring the business out of disrepair and back into operation.
Known as Cook's Inn, the restaurant located on Main Street in Ethan is owned by Gallas and Marilyn Thill. Together, they have owned and operated -- for more than three years.
The restaurant is closed because of damages allegedly caused by a lessee. Mel Weber, of Mitchell, and Dennis Puepke, of Ethan, recently started a donation fund they hope will provide the Thills with the money they need to reopen Cook's Inn.
Weber said that without Cook's Inn, there is nowhere in Ethan for senior citizens to get a meal.
Through their restaurant, the Thills delivered meals to senior citizens or handicapped residents in Ethan who are unable to leave their homes. They also offered free meals on certain holidays.
But trouble reportedly started for the small-town café when, with thoughts of moving to Texas to be nearer to some relatives, the Thills leased Cook's Inn to another man. Instead of operating the restaurant as the Thills had done, he allegedly caused thousands of dollars worth of damage and left the couple without a functional restaurant or the money to repair it.
According to Puepke, the lessee took anything that was of any value out of the restaurant.
The Thills, both dealing with health issues, are still unable to afford the repairs needed to reopen their café. They recently filed a petition in an attempt to get full ownership and control of their restaurant back from the lessee.
"They've been giving people and I felt it was time to start paying them back a little bit," Weber said. "We're trying to give them all the help we can."
Weber has known the Thills all his life.
He hopes the donation fund will bring between $500 and $1,000. In addition to monetary donations, Weber hopes local volunteers will come forward to assist in doing the repairs.
The donation account is set up at Farmers State Bank in Parkston.
"They've helped so many people through the years," Puepke said. "It would sure be nice if we could return the favor."