The Lighthouse Café, on the west end of Dexter’s Main Street, quietly closed its doors at the end of February. “We’re gonna go out like we usually do,” Sandi Varney said a few days before the closing. Sandi and her husband, Steven, owned the restaurant for twelve years; she blamed a bad economy for the closing. “It’s sad, very sad,” she said, but “it’s time to quit.”
The couple won’t have a lot of time to dwell on it. The Varneys, both fifty-three, are ramping up their catering business, Varney’s Catering Company. It’s not really a new business, Sandi says; they’ve been doing catering the whole time they owned the Lighthouse. She says the difference now is “it’s the only thing we’ll be doing.”
She says she’s not exactly sure how the revamped business is going to work, but she knows one thing for certain: pigs are going to be a big part of it. They own a pig roaster, one of the biggest ovens in the county, Sandy says, “maybe six by twelve feet. We can put five hogs in it [at one time]. So we’re specializing in the whole-hog roast.” That’s a lot of hog, but you won’t have to worry about picking it up to go: “It’s a mobile unit, so we’ll come to you.”
Though they no longer have the Lighthouse kitchen to work out of, Sandi doesn’t expect to have a problem finding places to cook. “Our church has offered to let us use their kitchen, and we cater a lot of places, like the Knights of Columbus, and we always use their facility when we’re doing [events] over there.” Whole roast hog won’t be the only thing on the menu. “We can do everything. We have been catering for years.”
Varney’s Catering Company, 426–2330.
On the other end of Main Street, a similar tale was unfolding around the same time. North Point Seafood & Steakhouse closed a week before the Lighthouse did, but with considerably less warning. Partners Mark Perry and Bob Heebner couldn’t be reached for comment, but a couple of notices posted on the front door of the restaurant in February pretty much told the story: Scio Township and the Village of Dexter seized the restaurant’s equipment for a combined $17,178 in unpaid personal property taxes dating back to 2008, a year after the restaurant opened.