Fork in the Road: Historic Valley Falls building goes from hardware to silverware

VALLEY FALLS, Kan. (WIBW) -- What used to be a hardware store in Valley Falls has turned into a smokehouse serving barbecue.

For 125 years, Stewart’s was a local hardware store on Broadway St. In 2015 the Heinen's purchased the building and in 2017 they re-purposed it into a family restaurant, transitioning from hardware, to silverware.

Co-Owner Bob Heinen said the idea came from his wife Carla and their 5 daughters.

"They'd always mention that it'd be fun to open up a restaurant here in Valley and it’s been a long time since we had a good sit down type restaurant,” Bob said. “They'd always make mention that Stewart’s would be the perfect building."

Stewarts Ol' Store Smokehouse provides customers with in house smoked meats and homemade side dishes coupled with a rotating dessert menu, all made with recipes that the Heinen's use at home.

"We make our own barbecue sauce and our desserts are all homemade,” Carla said. “We have two daughters and another gal that are in charge of our desserts every weekend, and the desserts change every single weekend.”

Coming to Stewart’s is more than just about the food. The original building was built in 1878.

The Heinen's aim is to preserve the history of Stewart’s, while providing valley falls with a place to enjoy their delicious barbecue.

"You see so many small towns die out,” Bob said. “I think if a person takes something that already has the history to it just like Stewart’s does, and hold on to that, people can relate to that."

"People that may have grown up in this town and moved away, they can come back and still enjoy this building,” Carla said. “Otherwise, this building would have probably just run down."

Bob says a big part of the history of the building in Valley Falls is in the name.

"We wanted permission to use the Stewart’s name because that's where the history lies,” Bob said. “We could change the name to Heinen's smokehouse, but everybody would still call it Stewart’s."

Stewart's Ol’ Store Smokehouse is open on weekends; Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.