For Cedarville students, truckers and local residents, Mom and Dad’s Dairy Bar and Grill is a common hang-out spot. The restaurant is celebrating its 25th anniversary this October.
From H&R to ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’
The Holmes family bought the restaurant in 1990 after Bruce and Mary Holmes returned from the mission field in Australia, said Debbie Holmes, daughter of the founding couple and current owner of Mom and Dad’s.
Previously, the restaurant was called H&R Dairy Bar and sold burgers, sandwiches, ice cream and pizza.
The Holmes family owned other businesses as well in the 1990s, such as gift shops and a garden center to help pay bills during the couple’s retirement. However, they decided to close the other businesses to focus on the Dairy Bar in the early 2000s.
Holmes said her mother, Mary, was the official owner of Mom and Dad’s until she died in 2013. Holmes took on the business at that time.
Holmes said the restaurant’s name came from the fact that the Holmes family wanted to provide comfort for college students who may be missing home.
“They said, ‘Well, you know sometimes college students get a little homesick and/or always run home to mom and dad,’” Holmes said. “(Students) can run right across the street, and we could help them get what they need or talk if they wanted to – that kind of thing.”
Holmes said eventually the whole town called her parents “mom” and “dad.”
In addition to working at Mom and Dad’s, Holmes has taught second grade at Cox Elementary School in Xenia for the past 30 years. She said she works about 120 hours a week, 70 of which are at Mom and Dad’s.
But she said being able to see the customers is what keeps Mom and Dad’s and her going.
Now that we’ve been here so long, kids that were working for us in the early ’90s are bringing their children to Cedarville, so they’d stop in and see us and talk, and we correspond with them. Or kids who grew up in town will come in and show their kids where they used to come all the time. That’s fun.
Holmes said Mom and Dad’s has been working on renovations the past few years, such as adding a pick-up window that is now in use. She also said the restaurant has added additional menu items, such as new appetizers, sandwiches and wraps, as well as additional ice cream flavors.
Holmes said she’s hoping that in the future she can expand the dining area, because there’s not a lot of space for customers to eat. However, the restaurant would have to buy more property in order to expand the building, she said.
But in spite of all these hoped-for changes, Holmes said she hopes for Mom and Dad’s service to stay the same.
“Making sure the people feel welcome and know that they can get quality food but not necessarily have to pay a ton,” she said.
Holmes said the type of customers at Mom and Dad’s is a mix between students and people from the community.
I try to make sure I don’t cater to one set of people. We’re here for everybody. And I don’t change my hours when the students aren’t here, I stay open the same hours.
Holmes said the restaurant has many regular customers.
One such regular is Bob Baldwin, a Cedarville Township resident. Baldwin has come to the restaurant for about 40 years, before it was even known as Mom and Dad’s.
Baldwin said he comes to Mom and Dad’s almost every day. He said one of his favorite things about the restaurant is the people who work there.
“They’ve got excellent food and the service is excellent,” he said. “Even when they get college kids over here to work, they’re just as nice as they can be.”
Another customer of Mom and Dad’s is Hayley Gray, a senior youth ministry major who has been coming to Mom and Dad’s since she transferred to Cedarville her sophomore year.
Like Baldwin, Gray said she enjoys the friendly and fast service. She said that she and a friend were lying in hammocks near the Callan Athletic Center on campus one day, and the two had Mom and Dad’s delivered.
“We almost told them to come to our hammocks, but we just had them meet us in Callan,” Gray said, “so they meet us around the loop, and we got our food and went in our hammock and just ate Mom and Dad’s in the hammock.”
Anne Heitman, who has been working at Mom and Dad’s since 2001, said people of all types come into the restaurant.
“You can get people that are really friendly,” she said. “There are people sometimes that come in here that are just so sad, and you get people who are really excited.”
Heitman said she enjoys getting to know all of the customers.
“You get to know their orders, know their names, a lot of them back and forth,” she said. “They get to know you, and people start teasing back and forth.”
Mom and Dad’s on mission
One feature that Holmes said her father wanted in the restaurant was a chance to share the gospel – to continue to be on mission even though the couple was retired from the mission field in Australia. For this reason, the family decided to have gospel tracts by the counter.
“No one’s forced to take them, they’re there if they want them. We’ve had truckers come in and say that they got saved,” Holmes said. “You never know the impact, but it’s available. We talk with people who want to talk, and we’ve had different people come in just to talk about things that are going on in their life.”
Celebrate Mom and Dad’s 25th anniversary by keeping up with the dairy bar on the web at momanddadsdairybarandgrill.com, on Twitter @MomandDadsDairy and on Facebook at Mom and Dad’s Dairy Bar.
Jen Taggart is a junior journalism major and off-campus news editor for Cedars. She enjoys writing, listening to music and fueling her chocolate addiction.