By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Aaron Abney has always been “a different breed” of kid, according to his mother, and it’s easy to agree with her.
How many young folks aspire to open a restaurant when they are 18 years old, or even younger?
But Aaron, who just turned 19, has not only dreamed it, he’s done it.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Aaron. “You get to meet so many people.”
Backstreet Grub, on Collins Street (facing the fire department), opened last week, and community response has been very positive.
People are talking about the interesting decor, the friendliness of Aaron’s staff (many of whom are family)–and the food.
Backstreet Grub serves a variety of burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, including their best-selling Philly Cheesesteak and their second bestseller, the beer cheese burger. The beer cheese is made in house, and all meats are ground fresh—no frozen patties here. Sides include fries, onion rings and slaw.
“Fun” is a good way to describe the vibe at Backstreet Grub.
One wall of the restaurant’s main dining area is covered with old record albums belonging to Aaron, not his parents. He says he has always preferred listening to vinyl.
Customers can choose a tune from the touchscreen juke box beside the door, or they can look for random jokes printed on walls or counters. Ask Aaron or his mother to tell you the story about how he acquired the large shark hanging over one of the dining room windows. She says he’s “made a believer” out of her in more ways than one.
Aaron is one of six siblings, some of whom pitch in at the restaurant on occasion, as do his parents, Jacob and Amanda Clowers Abney, and both their sets of parents. His younger sisters have their own room set aside as a little boutique which they’ve stocked with hair accessories, etc. The Abneys are from Estill County, but they were in Oklahoma for five years after Jacob’s job required them to move there.
Aaron has always dreamed big. When he was living in McAlester, Oklahoma, he wanted to purchase an old building there called The Ice House and turn it into a youth center. His goal was to have a “safe haven” for teens and young adults. He began fundraising as a 13 year-old, and continued with his efforts until he and his family moved back to Kentucky. The youth center project was officially registered as a non-profit, and a board of directors was elected. The effort to open the youth center is still ongoing.
In Oklahoma, while Aaron not only started a non-profit, but he also worked at “The Compass,” a brick-oven pizza restaurant. He also worked at a snow cone stand and in a Christian book store.
Aaron’s dreams don’t just end with opening Backstreet Grub. He has purchased a snow-cone stand that he has dubbed the “Hippie Hutt.” Plans are to set it up beside the restaurant in the coming months and place picnic tables beside it.
He is also working on a couple of Estill County-themed conference/party rooms inside the restaurant, where he will hang photos of “some of Estill’s proudest moments,” such as a photo of when the Irvine bridge was first built.
Aaron’s heart for the local community is evident in many ways, and he is already seeking to give back.
“We added a new menu item called IMU-loaded fry’s and we are going to donate 10 percent of sales each month to help people that can’t pay for their bills,” he said at the end of their first full week in business.
Backstreet Grub is open until 10 p.m. most nights, except for the weekends, when they close at midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. Be sure to like their Facebook page.
Grandparents: Teresa and Ronnie Clowers
Patricia Abney and Tim Abney