After 10 years of working at and managing The Creme Coffee House, Ashley Vanover will be running her very own restaurant. While the ideas are still coming to her after signing the paperwork just last Wednesday, she has big plans for The Campbell Club, a centerpiece of downtown Owensboro for 139 years.
“I am so excited,” Vanover said. “I want to bring food that’s just not here yet. I want to bring some food from places I’ve visited and put a Kentucky spin on it.”
Vanover will be leasing the building from Carston Management, keeping the Campbell Club name (for now) as she begins her own venture with the establishment, including a new menu and the addition of a coffee bar.
According to The Creme owner Adam Patterson, who purchased the building, Vanover will own the restaurant, allowing her to put her own unique spin on the bar area and bring Holy Roasters Coffee to Owensboro. Patterson said Holy Roasters Coffee will be roasted exclusively at the Campbell Club using a Balestra Italian coffee roaster, making the location not only a great spot to grab a coffee at the bar, but a place to try locally roasted coffee by Vanover herself.
Vanover is also excited to bring a wide range of coffee to the Owensboro community, including some authentic European variations that most Owensboro coffee shops don’t offer.
“I’m looking into different ways to brew coffee, such as pour-overs,” Vanover said. “I want to look into brewing methods we can’t do at the Creme because of the time they would take. When you go to Italy, you get a real cappuccino, and it’s an eight-ounce drink, and the authenticity of that is important.”
Vanover is interested in implementing a changing, seasonal food menu at her restaurant, but mentioned that a focus on New Orleans flavors mixed with a little bit of Kentucky’s historical staples is something she’s interested in as well. Regardless of the menu’s specifications, Vanover wants to serve food with quality ingredients and quality flavors.
“I learned to cook hanging out with my grandma on holidays, while all my cousins played outside,” Vanover said. “She taught me how to cook lemon-pepper pork, mashed potatoes and green beans. We’d eat those dinners as a family on Sunday afternoons.”
Vanover has been digging through recipe books trying to find long forgotten Kentucky dishes so that she can bring them back to life. As for The Campbell Club’s interior, Vanover is as ecstatic about the feel of the place as she is about the food.
“I’m kind of completely in love with it,” Vanover said, adding that she brought a record-player on one of her first walk-throughs and listened to music as she felt the place out.
“I would’ve sat there and listened to records all day,” she said. “It’s incredibly soothing to my soul to be in there.”
One of Vanover’s focuses for the restaurant is to keep true to its heritage in maintaining the “exclusive feel” Campbell Club members had prior to the former restaurant’s closing, while also keeping the restaurant current and fresh in cuisine and design.
As the bottom floor is divided into five different sections, Vanover said privacy is available for those hosting business meetings, graduation parties, receptions, family gatherings and birthday parties. However, those who want to come in and eat at a normal dining table will be able to eat at The Campbell Club without a membership, although reservations will likely be required for dinner.
In the end, Vanover has realized that feeding people is what she loves to do, and it’s what she’s good at.
“You know when you’re younger, and you think, ‘I really want to be this?’” Vanover asked. “It’s really mind-blowing when it actually happens.”