With The Hideaway Diner she has realized that dream.
The new eatery specializes in comfort food such as meatloaf, pulled pork, chicken tenders, slaw, and mashed potatoes, she makes most of the food, including the dessert crusts, from scratch. Now that people have found out about her cooking, she is developing a loyal customer base.
It’s what most Bradley Countians would call “home cooking.”
Life is good for Roxanna Kelso, but it’s been a difficult journey.
Several years ago, Roxanna and Russ Kelso were living their dream on a 20-acre farm in Okeechobee, Fla. Surrounded by livestock, they were settling into their new home. Kelso had a steady construction job and Kelso drove a school bus.
Then the nationwide recession hit, and it slammed Florida particularly hard. The Kelsos were helpless as their lives unraveled. When he lost his job, they couldn’t keep up the mortgage payments and their home went, too.
Still, they chose to move forward, rather than dwelling on their loss.
“All we wanted to do was get out of Florida,” said Kelso. “So we came to Tennessee to find new jobs.”
Once in their new location, they looked around and noticed a restaurant for sale. It was an ’aha’ moment, in which Kelso realized that if they tried extra hard with their own business, they wouldn’t have to work for anyone else.
After a lot of preparation work they finally opened, expecting large crowds, but that’s not what happened, Kelso said.
“There were days when we’d have all this food and not one customer showed up,” she said. “I wondered if we were going to fail. It’s been a difficult first year.”
But the people who did come raved about the food to their friends and more people started coming.
Bradley Deputy Sheriff Sam Long says he won’t eat anywhere else now that he’s found The Hideaway.
Bowater employee Wyman Whelan agrees. He said he often stops in twice a day.
“It’s convenient to work and there’s a variety of good food ,” Whelan said.
The Kelsos are glad they moved to Tennessee. They love Charleston and really want their restaurant to succeed. They just need those customers to keep finding them.
“Making this restaurant work is not just a dream,” Kelso said. “It’s my only dream.”