After 28 years, a well-known meeting place and favorite dinner spot has closed for good.
Jonathan Byrd’s closed its doors Sunday, ending nearly three decades of serving fried chicken and other home-cooked favorites in Greenwood.
The decision to close wasn’t easy, but was the right move, said Ginny Byrd, president of Byrd Enterprises.
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The restaurant already had been through changes in the past two years, after the decision to sell the building and close the cafeteria in 2014. Now, the company is preparing to open a new restaurant in Westfield, in the Grand Park Sports Campus, while also managing the commercial business and marketing for the facility, continuing to build its catering business and other ventures, including new hotels in Westfield and Arizona.
The new owner wants to sell the Greenwood building, and Jonathan Byrd’s needed to train employees for the new restaurant, so now was the right time to close, Byrd said. The banquet facility will close at the end of the year.
“It was a difficult decision, but it was the right decision,” she said.
Since opening in 1988, Jonathan Byrd’s has seen changes in where diners want to eat and on the east side of Greenwood, where it is located off Sheek Road at Main Street and Interstate 65. Bob Evans, which is located next door, also recently closed.
In 2014, the decision was made to close the 400-seat Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria and instead focus on catering because the customer base was changing. Cafeteria settings were no longer popular with customers, and the businesses needed to change, she said. The restaurant was moved into a smaller, 50-seat area inside the building.
“We had to have a whole new thinking,” Byrd said.
That also was when they decided to sell the 40,000-square-foot building to Ken Faulkner, a local developer who also recently bought the former Greenwood city hall building, she said.
The east side of Greenwood, especially the area off the Main Street exit, has changed, Byrd said. Now, development and growth is going further into the city, she said.
“Everything in Greenwood shifted away from the Greenwood exit,” Byrd said.
After closing the cafeteria, Byrd continued working to keep the small restaurant going, but people thought the restaurant was gone for good. And the company saw a bigger boom in the catering business, which was growing far beyond the Greenwood area.
About two years ago, they met with the developers of Grand Park, a 400-acre sports campus in Westfield. Originally, the discussion was about Jonathan Byrd’s handling the catering for the grand opening, but then they began discussing locating a restaurant at the facility, Byrd said.
Now, that restaurant, which will include a salad bar, prepared meals and their signature fried chicken, is set to open in a matter of weeks, Byrd said.
“If it were in Johnson County, I would be just as excited. This is just a great venture,” she said.
In addition, the catering business continues to grow, Jonathan Byrd’s Enterprises purchased the naming rights to the Grand Park fieldhouse and is running concessions, and the company is developing hotels in Westfield and Arizona. The company’s racing team, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing, is preparing for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, Byrd said.
But Greenwood will continue to be home for Byrd, and as she continues to look for new business opportunities, she isn’t ruling out a future venture in the area, she said.
“I told my customers don’t count me out; I may do something in the future, just hold on,” Byrd said.