Undeterred by threats of pandemics, businesses closing, and severe unemployment: Ashley Dooley and Mike Jeffries, the new owners of Route 52 Restaurant, had their grand opening February 19, 2021.

And what a success it was, as told by Dooley, “The turnout for our opening day was incredible! And we love hosting large groups in our 100-person pavilion; where they can eat and enjoy each other's company outdoors. So far, we've hosted baseball teams and classic car groups. We love being part of making family memories.”

As owners of a seasonal restaurant in Northern Kentucky, Snow Palace, which specializes in snow cones and ice cream, Dooley and Jeffries had been looking for a full-service restaurant opportunity when they saw Route 52 was on the market.

“We had just passed on a property in Northern Kentucky. So, we were keeping our eyes out for our ideal location. Back in December 2020 we were driving through town, taking our three kids to a Christmas tree farm. As we drove by Route 52, we saw a for sale sign. We called the owners and signed on it within a week,” said Dooley.

When asked about the origins of the name Route 52, Dooley explained, “We kept the same name that the previous owners used. They had quite a large following from the year they were opened (2019) through when we took it over at the beginning of 2021. So, we didn't want to change the name and risk losing the established social media audience and regular customers.”
This high-energy couple fell for West Harrison's country charm and beauty despite working full-time jobs and running a seasonal business. They have made it possible for locals and visitors heading to and from Brookville to have an option other than fast food.

“When we aren't working our regular fulltime jobs, he's in real estate and I work at a college in Florence Kentucky, we are working at the restaurant,” said Dooley.

Dooley shares the family side of this family restaurant and their budding business partners, “We have 3 girls (Riley 10, Lillian 8, and Lydia 2) who are often there with us, but they aren't very good 'workers' yet!” As in most family run operations, there is often outside help to keep things afloat. Dooley expresses accolades for their staff, “We also have hired local teens and young adults who work extremely hard for us and help us in many ways to keep Route 52 a success. We can't say enough good things for our team and the customers love each of them.” I can attest to the fact that they are quick with a smile and on top of their game of serving customers.

When you make your way to Route 52, you may want to know some of the favorite menu items, “The most popular items for food would be our footlong cheese coney known as Canal Dogs, our Cuban sandwich, and any of our pulled pork dishes. Our soft serve ice cream, milkshakes and frozen bananas/pineapples comes in top for desserts,” said Dooley. You can check their Facebook page at Route 52 West Harrison for their full menu and more reviews by other patrons who share their favorite foods and their dining experiences as well.

When asked if they have faced any challenges in their new venture, Dooley imparts their difficulties, and, how they make lemonade when given lemons, “Food shortages and costs that affect most restaurants right now would be our top challenges. We try to keep everything in stock and at great prices, but vendors are having difficulties making that possible. So, we planted our own garden right on the property. This not only provides our customers with fresh high-quality products, but ensures we always have these items available.” I call that a win-win!

Dooley concludes with what she wants future and past customers to know, “We love hearing feedback from our customers' experiences through our Google, Facebook or Instagram pages. Good or bad, we use that to make us even better! We especially enjoy positive reviews about our staff, considering how hard they work and at such young ages, 15-19 years old.”

Route 52's hours of operation are: Wednesday 10:30 am-1:30 pm, Thursday 5-8 pm, Friday 5-9 pm, Saturday and Sunday 12-7 pm. So, if you live in Brookville and are heading to the big city, stop and have lunch, dinner or an ice cream treat at Route 52.

If you are having out-of-town guests; suggest they stop and visit Route 52 on their way. Also, remember the outdoor shelter is a perfect location for teams, organizations, or family get-togethers for 100 or less people. Located at 2959 Harrison Brookville Rd, West Harrison, IN 47060, south of New Trenton and north of route 42 on the west side of State Route 52. Phone: 812-637-0095.