When Dennis Purschwitz and his wife, Donna, started a Route 66 trip in May 2011, little did they know that journey would lead to them owning the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas.
Traveling in a 2009 Ford Mustang GT, the couple from Thompson Station, Tenn., started their trip in St. Louis and motored west.
“We kept hearing we had to eat a slice of pie at the Midpoint,” Purschwitz recalled during a telephone interview on Tuesday evening.
When they finally arrived on a Saturday afternoon, they learned that longtime owner Fran Houser had put the Midpoint up for sale a few weeks before. It wasn’t the weak economy that prompted Houser to put the business on the block. On the contrary, its previous two years had seen record business. Houser simply wanted to retire.
“That’s when my wife started to see the gears turning in my head,” Purschwitz said.
“I’ve always had a thing for diners,” Purschwitz explained, “and it’s always something that I wanted to do. And I’ve always had a thing for Route 66. I love getting on the back roads.”
Purschwitz also owns three mid-1960s Ford Mustangs, in addition to his modern GT.
Purschwitz, who had worked as a wastewater treatment engineer for decades, was willing to gamble on a new vocation.
“I just turned 52, and I figured I was getting a little old to try something new,” he said. “This was my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I didn’t want to regret looking back.”
After another Route 66 trip in October, Purschwitz ascertained whether he was cut out for the restaurant business. He cleaned, bused tables, and served meals at the Midpoint.
“I basically job-shadowed for two days,” he said.
The Purschwitzes hashed out a purchase agreement with Houser after the Christmas holidays, and closed on the property on Monday afternoon.
Purschwitz set a tentative date of March 22 to open for the season. However, that date is weather-dependent. He wants to patch and resurface the restaurant’s parking lot before opening.
Donna and their 19-year-old daughter, Danielle, figure to help at the Midpoint. But Purschwitz made it clear he’s going to be the Midpoint’s main operator.
Save for a handful of new items on the menu, Purschwitz said diners this summer will detect few changes.
“All of the staff is staying. I’m going to run it pretty much the same way as Fran did it. The interior is going to be a little different, because Fran’s going to take some of her items out, and I’m putting some of mine in. But it’s new ownership, same tradition.”
He’s already added a placeholder website, at route66midpointcafe.com. And he’s tentatively thinking of extending the restaurant’s hours to early evening, plus perhaps serving dinners on Friday and Saturday nights during tourist season.