A New Era Begins

Koerners sell Key West Shrimp House
to longtime employee Morgan

No major changes planned at iconic restaurant, according to new owner

(February 2015) – Scott and Susan Koerner have been a fixture in Madison, Ind., for many years as owners and operators of the famed Key West Shrimp House at 117 Ferry St. The couple bought the business from Scott’s parents in 2000 and have enjoyed much success.
But in January, the couple decided to retire, so they sold the restaurant to long-time employee Cathy Morgan. Morgan, who has worked at the restaurant the past 22 years, will now guide the restaurant into its next era.
The first Key West Shrimp House opened in 1950 in Indianapolis by C.B. Kendall. He opened the restaurant in front of his house, and all he served was fried shrimp and twice baked potatoes. By 1958, he had moved up and opened a bigger place. He hired Pat Koerner as a waitress in Indianapolis, and her husband, Paul, hired on as a bartender. Paul worked his way up to manager and then district manager.

Koerner, Morgan

Photo by Kim Ruble

Scott Koerner (left) in January sold the Key West Shrimp House to longtime employee Cathy Morgan. Koerner and his wife, Susan, are retiring from the restaurant business that they owned and operated for 15 years, since buying it from his parents in 2000.

Kendall opened the Madison restaurant in 1968. In 1974, Paul was transferred to Madison to manage the new Key West Shrimp House there. They loved the area so much that they decided to buy the restaurant in 1981. In 2000, the couple sold the restaurant to their son Scott, his wife, Susan, and their daughter, Brittany.
Koerner said he felt selling the shrimp house to Morgan was the right thing to do. He explained that “Cathy doesn’t want to forget what made this restaurant so successful for 46 years, yet she also wants to keep things interesting and add new things.”
He also believes that by dealing with Morgan, it means the shrimp house will stay in Madison. Scott said he felt it was important that they were able to retain the staff. He explained that keeping the workers was high on their agenda when they decided to sell the place.
“We wanted to look out for the people who looked out for us.”
That is extremely important for such a family oriented restaurant where some employees have worked there for nearly 40 years.
Morgan said she bought the Key West Shrimp House because “I love the business.” But she was quick to add, “We’re not changing anything. We are just looking forward to adding new fun and exciting things. There will still be magic tricks that happen. So no one needs to worry about that.”

Key West Shrimp House

Photo by Don Ward

Key West Shrimp House has been a mainstay in Madison since opening there in 1968.

Morgan said she plans to add new items as time goes on. She plans on bringing in some new and unique beers for patrons to try and also will be having new dinner specials.
Koerner ex-plained that the Key West Shrimp House had its own specific brand of wine, crafted for them by the Madison Vineyard. He said the shrimp house has its own website at www.keywestshrimphouse.com and Facebook page where a lot of information can be found about the restaurant. At the Facebook site, there are photos of customers when they come in and celebrate birthdays or anniversaries.
Recently, Koerner has been posting photographs from the late 1990s and early 2000s because an old box of CDs were discovered of anniversaries and parties from many years ago.

The restaurant sits and overlooks the Ohio River. The building was erected sometime in the late 1800s and was used as a button factory. Various shells were ransacked from the river and mother of pearl buttons were punched from the shells.

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