Part one in a three-part series about “hidden gem” locations near campus

By Cassie Gerhardstein
Senior Features Writer

Wilmore’s charm radiates through its vintage architecture and the voluminous flower baskets that line its streets. It is, undoubtedly, an en- chanting place to live and attend school. How- ever, being a small town, Wilmore lacks many off-campus eating options. Asbury students are limited if they want a temporary escape from caf- eteria food.

But what many Asbury students don’t know is that the little IGA grocery store across the street is a hidden gem, selling edible gold in the form of doughnuts and homemade lunches.

For four years now, 73-year-old owner Leonard Fitch has been coming into the store before 6 a.m. to get started on a variety of anywhere between seven and 20 dozen fresh doughnuts. Hot doughnuts are prepared by the time the store opens at 7 a.m., and the best part is that the price is right. At 50 cents for glazed doughnuts and 60 cents for specialty doughnuts, even university students can likely afford a few doughnuts from the change under their car seats.

“We do sell out pretty much every day, and we don’t carry over doughnuts. Everything is fresh every day,” Fitch said.

In addition to fresh breakfast, deli worker Marilyn Proctor and deli manager P.K. arrive at IGA by 7:30 each morning to start preparing home-cooked lunches. Along with the daily lunch special, burgers, sandwiches, fries and fried chicken are also daily options.

“Everything is homemade. None of it’s frozen,” P.K. said.

The menu changes daily with the exception of Monday, which always boasts P.K.’s famous meatloaf, and Wednesday, which is always chicken potpie. Lunch, which includes the daily special, two sides and a roll, costs $3.99, while sandwiches range from $1.99 to $3.19. Just like all the other food prepared at IGA, it’s prepared however the customer wants it, even if what he or she wants isn’t on the menu.

Perhaps the only thing more comforting than the delicious, fresh cuisine is the refreshing atmosphere IGA offers. While the eating area is humble with only a few small tables, the staff resembles more of a family than a group of co- workers.

Fitch, who is an Asbury graduate himself, has worked at IGA his entire life and says that some of his best friends are at IGA. Fitch took over the family business after his mother and father, who moved the business from New York to Wilmore in 1956.

Proctor, a retired government employee, says she works at IGA for the fun, because she loves to cook, while P.K. says that the people make it “the best place [she’s] ever worked.” For this rea- son, IGA’s doughnuts are more than just break- fast for locals; they’re a social hour.  

“They call it the breakfast club,” Proctor said.

Regulars come in every morning to start the day with friends over doughnuts and coffee. Jack Wright, a regular, has only lived in Wilmore for three weeks, but he heard about “the breakfast club” through friends and hasn’t missed a single morning at IGA. Most days, Wright ventures back for lunch as well.

“P.K. makes the best meatloaf in the world,” Wright said.

Whether it’s a warm doughnut, a home-style lunch or just a social hour, IGA’s humble, small- town feel and family environment is what keeps customers coming back, and Fitch is always hop- ing more Asbury students will join the club.  

“We want students to feel welcome and we want our product to be the best,” said Fitch.