• Last modified 184 days ago (Jan. 11, 2024)


Coffee shop closing after newspaper raid

Staff writer

A Marion coffee shop, the owner of which was at the center of Aug. 11 raids on the Marion County Record and the homes of its owners and a city council member, is closing at the end of the month.

Kari Newell, owner of Kari’s Kitchen and Chef’s Plate, said Kari’s Kitchen plans to phase out the coffee shop by the end of the month.

“We will no longer be offering lunch items and will be phasing out our other food items as they sell out,” Newell said.

Gift cards may be redeemed before the end of the month or traded for Chef’s Plate gift cards, she said.

Business hours will be 7 to 11 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. through 11 a.m. Saturday.

Newell is considering consolidating coffee shop operations with those of her restaurant, Chef’s Plate, located in the Historic Elgin Hotel across 3rd St. from Kari’s Kitchen.

“It would be amazing to have a place to expand the coffee shop portion over there,” Newell said.

The 1887 house where the coffee shop operates will be listed for sale. Newell, who rents the building and lives on the upper floor, will find a different home.

Building owners Duke and Glenda McCord of Gainesville, Texas, who bought the house in 2018 because their, daughter Tammy Ensey, and her husband Jeremy Ensey noticed signs of drug dealing at the property as they worked on renovating the Historic Elgin Hotel.

Newell had planned to rent the building for a few months, then purchase it.

“It was supposed to be a temporary thing with the option to eventually buy it,” Newell said.

However, that’s not the way things happened.

“There’s been a lot that has happened in the recent months,” she said.

The raid on the newspaper and homes occurred after Police Chief Gideon Cody told Newell her driver’s license information had been illegally accessed by the newspaper and given to city council member Ruth Herbel, who in turn forwarded it to city administrator Brogan Jones.

The information actually was given to the Record and Herbel by a source and verified via a public Department of Revenue website.

Newell angrily confronted Herbel at a city council meeting the evening Cody told her. She also filed a complaint with the police department. Four days later, police raided the newspaper and the homes of its owners and Herbel.

Business sharply dropped after the raid made international headlines.

“We never in a million years thought it would drag out so long,” Newell said. “This thing has been hard on all of us. Everybody has their own journey with this.”

Also interfering with her plans was her divorce from husband Ryan Newell.

She said neither of them would back down in what they wanted and the divorce has dragged on for months.

“In essence, this divorce has caused a lot of things to happen,” she said.

She said she invested a lot of time learning the business of running a coffee shop and expenses ran too high to keep going.

The first coffee shop to open in the building was Dorothy’s in 2019.

In 2021, a women’s discipleship program operated by Denton Freedom House opened a branch in Marion there. Clients served coffee, tea, sandwiches, and baked goods on an in-house basis.

In May 2023, Newell opened Kari’s Kitchen in the building.

Last modified Jan. 11, 2024