Business owners honored for dedication to community

The Golden Leaf Award was given to Chuck and Jean Walk, longtime owners of the Fat & Sassy restaurant and the Stocked Pot. (Photos provided)


HUNTINGBURG — Business owners were honored with awards and congratulated by attendees at the Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Thursday at Venue 1408.

The Golden Leaf Award, the chamber’s prestigious honor, was given to Chuck and Jean Walk, longtime owners of the Fat & Sassy restaurant and the Stocked Pot. Although the businesses closed this year, the award recognized the couple’s decadeslong dedication and work for the community.

“It’s nice to know that you are missed,” Jean said. “For us, this was more than just working or doing your job. We tried to make memories and help people when we could.”

Fat & Sassy started as Rosie’s Deli in 1988 on the west side of the historic Fourth Street district. Then-owner Rosie Rosenblatt, Jean’s father, sold the deli and opened Fat & Sassy in 1993 at Fourth and Jackson streets. The Stocked Pot, a store that specialized in kitchen gear, opened in 1995. Jean and Chuck took over both businesses soon after, but Rosie stayed involved — he was known for giving out chocolate covered candies to customers — until he died in 1999.

The Walks said they loved being on Fourth Street. “It was a family, especially the older days,” Jean said. “When it snowed, the merchants went out and made snowmen. We all looked out for each other. Instead of competing, we complemented each other, and supported each other.”

Jean still works, at Freedom Bank in Dale. And Chuck is taking care of his “honey-do” list, he said.

They are also working on a cookbook, compiling the recipes of popular Fat & Sassy dishes, including those from Rosie.

“The working title is Fat N Sassy, the cookbook,” Chuck said, laughing. “We hope to have it ready by this Christmas season. It should be a fun memory.”

Fred Clark, left, Carla Parke-Bell and Gary Bell, of Touch of Class, received the Business of the Year award.

The Business of the Year Award was bestowed on Touch of Class, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

“This started in our basement as a concept, an idea,” said Carla Parke-Bell, founder and co-owner of the merchandising company. “Three years into the business in New Hampshire, we decided that we wanted to come back home.”

Carla is from Oakland City, so she and her husband, Fred, started searching for a business home in southwest Indiana. They settled in Huntingburg, and now have two retail outlets in Huntingburg’s historic downtown.

“We are dedicated to keeping our outlet stores downtown,” Parke-Bell said, “and we hope to encourage people to move to Huntingburg and start businesses.”

The Next Generation of Leadership Award was given to Emily Meyer, owner of the Art Factory. The business, which offers instructional classes for different art mediums, opened on Fourth Street last year.

The Next Generation of Leadership Award was given to Emily Meyer, owner of the Art Factory.

Meyer, who graduated from Southridge High School in 2009, has served in the Air Force and studied art at the University of Southern Indiana. She is also active in the community, a couple of those activities being president of the Huntingburg Merchants Association and a member of the Huntingburg Entertainment Art Recreation Team, a Destination Huntingburg committee focused on bringing more arts and cultural activities to the city.

Lee Bilderback, a local history buff who is a teacher at Cedar Crest Intermediate School, shared stories at the luncheon about Dubois County’s beginnings 200 years ago. And Chamber Executive Director Sara Schroeder told the crowd about the various activities and events the chamber has been doing in the last year. She mentioned the chamber’s partnership with the Ferdinand Chamber of Commerce, through which the two chambers hold joint events to support and promote the southern half of Dubois County, and placing the Huntingburg Merchants Association under the chamber’s umbrella.

But the focus Thursday was on the businesses that support Huntingburg and its residents.

“It’s all about community and family,” Jean Walk said. “Yes, it’s a job and it’s our livelihood. But it’s also our mission.”

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