MADISON, Ind. (June 2004) Madison area residents who fondly
recall dining in Hillside Inns bay-windowed restaurant overlooking
the Ohio River valley several years ago are being welcomed back to
the newly renovated hotel now that the restaurant has been re-opened.
by Don Ward
Tobias serves guests
on opening week.
The long-awaited opening of the restaurant took place May 5 after
a week of practice runs for the staff. Owner Jerry Fuhs of Jasper,
Ind., brought in Beechwood Inn chef Anthony Barba from French Lick
to help set up the kitchen and develop an extensive menu of entrees
that range from $12 to $23. Fuhs owns Beechwood Inn among other properties
in the area.
Hillside Inn manager Gina Porter has been training with Barba to learn
the restaurant business. She is a veteran of hotel management and
has directed operations at Hillside Inn since it opened more than
three years ago.
Everything has gone very smoothly for us and we expect business
to really pick up now that we have our restaurant open, Porter
said. Were very excited to be able to offer our guests
a place to dine. So far, everyone has been really pleased with the
food and the service. We plan to take it slow until we get everything
Fuhs and Barba were present the first night in May when the staff
went through its first practice run with invited guests. Barba, 36,
a Brooklyn, N.Y., native who has worked for Fuhs the past year, said
he is pleased with the progress so far.
Were very pleased with the response we have gotten in
Madison, and we are lucky to have Gina on site to manage the day-to-day
operations, Barba said.
Fuhs, too, expressed his satisfaction with the opening and is hoping
to offer guests some of the delicacies being sold at his other four
restaurants The Beechwood; The Gasthof restaurant in Montgomery,
Ind.; Santas Lodge and a pizza parlor called Frostys,
both in Santa Claus, Ind.
For example, Barbas famous cheeescake, pecan pie, raspberry
almond cake and other desserts are being sold at the Hillside Inn
already. Fuhs hopes to eventually sell a special brand of ice cream
at Hillside Inn that is made at The Gasthof, and wine that is made
by French Lick Winery, housed in the basement of Beechwood Inn.
The final piece is the opening of the lounge, which Porter said should
be open by early July, pending the approval of the alcohol license.
Combined with the front dining room, a second interior room and the
lounge, the Hillside Inn will be able to accommodate up to 120 people.
Barba grew up in the bakery business in New York and has worked in
restaurants since age 13. He came to Indiana in 1997 when he was hired
to set up The Bakery Store in Jasper. Later, he ran a restaurant at
the Santa Claus Golf Course. He had met Fuhs while running the bagel
shop and the two eventually hooked up in May 2003.
Fuhs, who also owns the former Meese building on the Madison riverfront,
serves on the local historic preservation board in French Lick that
was created to help decide on which company will build and operate
the future Orange County casino. Only two companies are still vying
for the job one owned by Donald Trump and another whose
partners include French Lick native and former basketball star Larry
Bird. The board is expected to make its recommendation to the Indiana
Gaming Commission in July.