BY CHRISTINE BARBOUR
Story, Indiana, isn’t on the way to much of any place. If you aren’t deliberately going there, you are unlikely to get there, and if you blink as you cross its 23 acres you might miss it altogether. And that would be a shame.
Once a thriving Brown County town of several hundred people, today Story is mostly home to The Story Inn (6404 S. SR 135), a restaurant and bed-and-breakfast place that advertises itself as having been at “one inconvenient location since 1851.”
Sprawled across the tiny village, the Inn consists of 13 rooms in several buildings and cottages decorated in homey, old-fashioned style. The restaurant, a restored general store, serves three meals a day and brunch on Sunday. The Story Still Tavern in the basement is a casual place for a drink; the gorgeous garden out back a lovely place for a glass of wine. The Inn draws weddings and honeymooners, family reunions and sightseers, fall leaf-lookers, and those just out for a ride—whether by Harley, horse, or automobile—who want to have a pleasant meal at the end of the road.
To hear them talk about the challenges and rewards of running their little town, Rick and Angela Hofstetter sound more like Story’s parents than its owners. Since Rick bought the place in 1999, it has been their job to see that roofs are patched, plumbing is fixed, woodwork is restored, and all the other myriad things are repaired that tend to break in a town that has passed its century-and-a-half mark (“a constant battle against the forces of entropy,” says Rick). But he has a passion for old buildings and a fierce desire to restore Story and to leave it in good hands. Ultimately he’d like to get it listed as a historic district, but meanwhile he and Angie and their committed team of employees run the Inn and keep the town alive.
The restaurant at Story is in the hands of Leanne Sayers and Justin Waterman. Leanne has been working at Story for years, Justin has recently graduated from culinary school in Louisville, and together they design the ever-changing menu around what gardener Vera Elliott grows in the restaurant’s extensive garden. Diners enjoy dishes like Brown County pork blackberry barbeque, seared scallops with local chanterelles, and beef with buttermilk mashed potatoes and asparagus. Meals are served in the dining room, where samples of the store’s wares of old grace the walls and shelves; or on the wooden, screened back porch; or in the garden itself, where a grill and a summer kitchen help feed the hordes of warm-weather and autumn visitors. The Hofstetters offer wines from an extensive list to go with your meal, and if you imbibe a little more than you meant to, they can probably supply a bed for you, too. Ask them about the Blue Lady, and have a pleasant night, steeped in the history of a time gone by. (800-881-1183, storyinn.com)