Dave and Tammy Ashton, who travel the country working historical reenactments, have found themselves, in a way, back home at the old post office on Combs Ferry Road.
The two, originally from central Indiana, worked as mail carriers for much of their lives until 1998, after two simultaneous tragedies brought them together and they decided to find something new. After time in Bible college and a 40-day trip to Israel, they discovered an ice cream truck. Now, after spending about six years on the road as vendors — first selling ice cream, then kettle corn and now Indian fry bread — the two are the new owners of The Homestead.
“Since we’ve set out in this — we call it a journey or an adventure — I feel like we’ve lived more life since 1998 than we did in all of the 40 years prior to that,” Dave said in an interview last week. “We’ve met all kinds of people we never would have met, been all over to places we never would’ve gone and seen.”
The couple came upon The Homestead’s lease almost by accident when Tammy found it online in a business section. They said while on the road, a lot of people asked if they had a store where they could purchase the fry bread. When the opportunity to have one came along in Winchester, where their two daughters and grandchildren live, they seized it. Their first day was Oct. 1, taking over for Megan and Mike Smith, of Lexington, who started the business in June.
The inside of the restaurant has the same quaint and cozy feel as before, but the smells of fry bread join the smells of pastries. The couple has been making fry bread for about two years.
“It’s a yeast-based bread batter that she mixes ... herself, and we roll it out, and then you fill it with all kinds of items. You can put anything inside of them,” Dave said. “Now the Native Americans, they would put berries and fruits and meats, nuts, and then they would fry it in bear fat.”
Three different flavors were out one recent day: apple, sausage gravy, and bacon, egg and cheese. It looks similar to a calzone, but Dave said it is unique because it sheds oil.
Since they were not originally planning to take over the business until later, their hours vary each week because of on-the-road obligations, but they hope by January to develop consistent hours and customers to keep the post office alive.
The Ashtons discovered that the 100-year-old refurbished building is endearing to many in the community and is a place of nostalgia. It is a place residents do not want to see sit empty and idle, they said.
“This is an interesting place, just the community and how they care about the building,” Tammy said. “It’s hard because ... there’s only been a few places that have stayed longer than a year. And so they’re used to people coming and going. They don’t have a lot of faith in anybody staying, but they want to see someone stay. It’s almost like depressing to them if it’s sitting here closed up.”
The Ashtons will be on the road until mid-December heading to reenactments in Alabama and then to Charlotte, N.C., to help with Operation Christmas Child. The project is through the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, and volunteers pack shoeboxes with presents for children who need them.
People can visit the Facebook page, named The Homestead, to find out when it will be open next and to receive updates.
Contact Katie Perkowski at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter, @TheSunKatie.