Diner reopens under new ownership

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Topsy’s Restaurant, an established part of the Concordia business scene since 1912, recently reopened under the ownership of Jessica and Russell Marlin. The diner is serving customers seven days a week, and will hold a grand opening from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 30. Pictured standing in front of an old menu (which does not feature current prices, Marlin said) are head waitress Missi Hunter, owner Jessica Marlin, and head cook Leslee Prudden. The menu features a brain sandwich, which Marlin said will be on the menu for the grand opening ceremony.
Bob Stewart/The Concordian

Topsy’s Restaurant, a staple on the Concordia dining scene since 1912, will host a grand opening celebration from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 30. The iconic Main Street diner recently reopened under new ownership. Jessica and Russell Marlin are fulfilling Jessica’s childhood dream of being the main proprietor of the business.

“This was my first job. I stated working here when I was 12 and worked here until I was 20,” she said. “I always said one day I would own it and have my kids work here, too.”

A patron commented recently that the diner was always a great spot to find a first job for many young people in days gone by. And, actually, you might say Topsy’s runs in the new owner’s blood. Jessica worked for her aunt, Annette Sander, and employment at the restaurant was the first job for Jessica’s father, James Harms. Adding to the family’ historical connection to the establishment, Jessica’s daughter, son and nephew are all part of the current staff. In addition, Marlin also brought her grandmother, Vivian Harms, into the business, where she makes all of the pies, cinnamon rolls, and all of the baked goods for the restaurant. Harms formally was the cook at Saint Paul’s Lutheran School.

“As you can tell, the staff is mostly family,” Marlin said. “I thought it’s a family place, and having family working here would be good for a mom and pop type of place.”

Marlin said she decided to try to get the establishment reopened after it had been shut down for a while in early 2019.

“I would drive by it every day and see it sitting there closed, and it just killed me,” she said. “I had always wanted to run Topsy’s, and my husband was wanting a place where he could feature his smoked meats, so we decided it was just time to do it.”

Marlin said there will be changes to the menu, aimed at appealing to a younger generation. Wraps, loaded potatoes, and locally smoked meats have been added. The business is also making event catering available. Other changes include weekend buffets.

“We have a breakfast and lunch buffet every Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m. and lasting until 2 p.m.,” Marlin said. “And we have a brunch buffet from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.” In addition, Marlin said the restaurant will begin opening during randomly one or two evenings each month.

Currently, Topsy’s Restaurant is open from 6:30 to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. The diner is located at 715 S. Main in Concordia.

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