Kirklin, Ind. – Kirklin might be home to less than 1,000 people and only 16 shops, but the Clinton County town is attracting people from miles away!
Kirklin sits at U.S. Route 421 and State Road 38.
Laura McClelland’s Kirklin story actually starts down the road in Frankfort. She’s dedicated much of her life to the popular Milky Way and her catering business.
“I found that I loved antiques and I’d decorate with them and I would come out to Kirklin to get things,” said McClelland. “Then Craig at the White Lion wanted me to come out here. He said I had an eye for it.”
Craig Unroe started collecting old oil cans a long time ago and before long, he’d collected enough antiques to open the White Lion. Unroe says none of the shops that opened alongside him 20 years ago are still open today.
“A lot of shops have come and gone but they’re starting to stay,” said Unroe. “The right people are landing here and I think it’s working out good.”
Count McClelland as one of those people! She listened to Unroe and opened the door to Clementine’s Antiques and Accents.
“My mom used to sing that to us when we were little and then a friend of mine came across this cow and I thought, oh my word, she’s a perfect Clementine, so now she’s the mascot of the store. She’s probably the only thing in here I don’t sell, though she is the one thing I could have sold at least 50 times. I mean it’s ridiculous how many people want her.”
A fond childhood memory, now the namesake of a store full of things that trigger that same special feeling in shoppers.
“People like it because they’re associated with their memories. They come in and say, I love that, my grandma had that, I was raised with that.”
Out of the 16 shops in Kirklin, 12 are antiques stores!
The stores don’t compete. Instead, they figure the more the merrier.
“We hope that people will come and make this like a travel destination. You can spend the entire weekend just going through all our shops.”
Each shop has its own unique style.
“It’s fun and what’s so wonderful, we all get along. We’re like a family. We do things together. Saturday night we go out to dinner after work. We go to Empire Pizzeria and we also go to Booker’s. It’s wonderful.”
Empire Pizzeria is across the street from Clementine’s.
McClelland’s son picked that spot to open his first restaurant.
“I got to travel the world and did a lot of restaurant food and beverage work up and down the west coast, but always wanted to do my own thing at some point,” said McClelland. “So to be able to bring some of those influences back and do something that people are really comfortable with, but do it at a high level of creativity and quality, it’s something that worked out perfect.”
Of course the pizza is a crowd pleaser, but McClelland was surprised when another menu item kept popping up on the kitchen tickets.
“The most surprising thing that people have really grabbed a hold of are the salads. Everybody talks about how fresh our ingredients are and we do try to do as much local as we possibly can.”
From homemade mozzarella to homemade cannoli’s, people are digging in and coming back for more.
“We want to do as fresh as we possibly can. It almost seems new and trendy now to say that, but there’s a reason behind it! It makes better food. I’d say we’re probably at a 95% from-scratch kitchen. Once we get big enough to add the staff that we’d like, then we’d strive to be 100% from scratch.”
You might wonder, are there enough people in Kirklin to keep Empire Pizzeria alive? Turns out, people are already coming from as far as Greenwood just to eat there.
“Kirklin has a lot going on right now. It’s quickly become one of the top small town destination locations outside the city. We can be a part of the Kirklin community and still stand out and be unique with what we’re trying to do.”
We visited Booker’s Bar and Grill this morning. Booker’s is known for it’s hand-cut filets. Jennifer Bowman opened the restaurant about a year ago. The restaurant features family dining space, a bar and a patio. Booker’s offers catering services and a popular Sunday brunch. Booker’s is open seven days a week.
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