Hand-built tables at new Cedarville Chik-fil-A connect to village’s past

Cedarville alumnus from the class of 2013 Phil Kochsmeier works on the tables he was contracted to build for the university's new Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Cedarville University’s brand new Chick-fil-A restaurant opened this weekend with a side of handcrafted nostalgia.

Starting on Monday, Aug. 17, the new restaurant will be open to the public as well as to the campus community. Hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Last fall, the university contracted with 2013 Cedarville alumnus Phil Kochsmeier to build two 7 ft. by 3 ft. tables for the new restaurant. Kochsmeier, owner of Maple Street Woodworking, opted to try to do something special, and build the tables using timbers from the old Cedarville Hardware Store.

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Cedarville Hardware, owned by Glenn Fawcett until his sudden passing in 2017, was purchased by the university from the Fawcett family in 2018. Located on the corner of Ohio 42 and Ohio 72, the building now houses the Cedar Care Village Pharmacy.

In the process of converting the hardware store into a modern-day pharmacy, a substantial portion of the old structure was removed, including floor boards and floor joists. Rod Johnson, Cedarville’s associate vice president for operations, sought ways to re-purpose the 19th century rough-hewn white oak.

“As I looked at those oak boards, I wondered if there might be a way to use them,” Johnson said. “Then I thought about the new Chick-fil-A and realized we could probably use some of that lumber for tables. I love to reuse older, still viable building materials, and we had a chance to connect the old with the new.”

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The university chose Kochsmeier as the man for the job after he gained their confidence by previously building bookshelves for a vice president’s office and an end table for the human resources building.

“As you’re building this stuff, you start to wonder about who walked across these floors and what happened in earlier times,” Kochsmeier said. “I know it seems like a simple project, but there’s value in the stories behind the wood. To be entrusted with a project of this magnitude, this is a humbling thing. It gives me the chills to think about it.”

Cedarville alumnus from the class of 2013 Phil Kochsmeier works on the tables he was contracted to build for the university's new Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

The lumber used in the new Chick-fil-A tables could have started as sapling well over 200 years ago, Kochsmeier estimated, as the Cedarville Hardware building was constructed over 120 years ago.

“It starts to open your eyes and your imagination,” Kochsmeier said. “People born and raised in Cedarville will be going to the Chick-fil-A, people in their 40s today who went to the hardware store with their mom or dad. Or people in their 80s who look at this wood as something that’s been around forever. It might remind them of friendships or a time when they took their grandkids to the store. When you start to think about it, it gets pretty overwhelming.”

Before Kochsmeier could mark the project as complete, he wanted to create something special for his friend, Linda Fawcett, Glenn Fawcett’s widow.

Kochsmeier used the same lumber to make a wooden plaque that reads “Bless this House.”

“This plaque represents a piece of the hardware store and a reminder of her husband,” Kochsmeier said. “That’s important.”

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