Madison landmark

Local family-owned restaurant
remains steadfast for three decades

Owner Koerner honored with business award

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(January 2008) – For more than 30 years, a Madison, Ind., family-owned restaurant has welcomed both tourists and local residents with its friendly atmosphere and timeless menu. The award-winning Key West Shrimp House, which overlooks the Ohio River in downtown Madison, has become a landmark stop for visitors and residents to the city.
In November, the restaurant added another accolade to its list when owner Scott Koerner received the 2007 Small Business Person of the Year from the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2002, the restaurant was a State Hospitality Award winner from the Indiana Department of Tourism.

Key West Shrimp House

Photo provided

Key West Shrimp House, which
overlooks the Ohio River in Madison,
Ind., was shut down for a month
during the 1997 river flood.

“I think it is simply incredible and awesome that I won the award,” said Koerner, 44. “We certainly try to serve our customers and our community in the best way possible.”
Koerner took over the restaurant in 2000 after his parents, Paul and Pat Koerner, retired.
The elder Koerners bought the restaurant in 1981 from Indianapolis restaurateur C.B. Kendall.
Kendall opened the first Key West Shrimp House during the 1950s in Indianapolis. In the early 1970s, he decided to open another shrimp house in the historic town of Madison. He had originally grown up in the area. He bought a historic building built in the 1800s that formerly housed a button factory and another restaurant, the Rivertown Inn.
Paul and Patricia Koerner, both 78, began working at the Indianapolis restaurant in the late 1950s. Pat was a waitress, while Paul worked as a manager helper and bartender.
Paul said that in 1974 Kendall asked them to relocate to Madison to manage the new store.
“We were very apprehensive at first,” said Kendall. “Once we got here, however, we loved it.” They had driven through Madison a few times while delivering shrimp and never imagined they would end up living here.
Seven years later, Kendall approached Paul with the idea of buying the restaurant, which they agreed to do. “Over the years, Pat and I worked very long hours and did every job in the restaurant at various times,” said Paul.

Scott Koerner

Scott Koerner

Through the years, Key West Shrimp House has remained relatively untouched by time, except for updates on décor and a new computer system. The menu has stayed basically the same, with just a few occasional changes. “We haven’t changed a lot because what we do works well,” said Scott.
Retired Dr. Noel Graves, 83, has been a regular customer since the restaurant opened. In fact, he used to take his family to the restaurant when it was known as the Rivertown Inn. “The food is consistently good, and the restaurant is always clean,” said Graves, who dines there two or three times a week. “All of the people there are so nice.”
After working at the restaurant during high school, Scott Koerner left Madison to attend Purdue University. Upon graduation, he returned home and began working at the restaurant while looking for a job. “I like working here,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do this.”
By the late 1990s, Paul and Pat were relying on Scott to help out more and more. He bought the restaurant from them in 2000.
Besides managing the restaurant, Scott plays guitar in the punk rock band “Shock Treatment.” The band plays gigs throughout the area to raise money for Hospice. So far, they have donated more than $14,000 to the organization that cares for terminally ill patients.

• For more information about Key West Shrimp House, call (812) 265-2831.

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