Ivan Talley ’16 and Nate Byerly ’16 are friends, roommates and colleagues in an internship project for the Heart of Danville Main Street Program, and it’s clear they learned a lot about their community beyond campus and had a great time doing it.
The Heart of Danville (HOD) is a non-profit group whose mission is to foster historic preservation, support economic vitality and small businesses, and sponsor downtown events. HOD gave Talley and Byerly the envious task this semester of visiting all their member food providers in downtown Danville and creating detailed profiles of the owners and their establishments. The goal is increasing awareness of and promoting interest in local downtown cuisine.
Dr. Bethany Rogers ’96, executive director of HOD, explains the value of their work.
“Through the narratives they have crafted and the quotes and images they have collected, we will have new web content and printed materials to improve understanding of what our small, independent businesses offer our community and get more people spending time and doing business in our historic downtown.”
Byerly and Talley invested considerable time into creating their in-depth profiles. The pair interviewed the owners of downtown shops to learn the history of their businesses, their stories, their reasons for locating downtown, the clientele to whom they cater—anything that would help them create a detailed look at what makes these businesses tick. As Centre students, Talley and Byerly hope their work introduces more of the Centre community to these local gems that, their sense is, most of their fellow students aren’t aware of.
While having lunch at Taqueria Los Amigos, for instance, they shared their theories on why more students aren’t patronizing locally owned restaurants.
“I think it’s a lack of exposure,” Talley, a Louisville native, says. “A lot of us come from bigger cities, so when we see a chain restaurant we recognize, we tend to go there instead of exploring the local options.”
“You’re away from home, and you don’t really know anything about the local eateries,” Byerly, also of Louisville, says. “So, you Google restaurants, and Zaxby’s or Cracker Barrel is going to come up.”
One by one, they visited The Hub, Cue on Main, Bluegrass Pizza & Pub, Chocolate and More, Pies for You and Cookies Too, Melton’s Deli, Jane Barleycorn’s and the many other downtown venues. But, while they were eating their way through Danville’s culinary cornucopia, their internship was nourishing their educational experience as well.
“I enjoyed talking to people in a professional setting from a business perspective,” Byerly says. “I’m in economics and finance, so I’m building experience in speaking and interviewing, and learning about what they do that works from the business side.
“Also, I’ve never felt like my writing was especially strong, so writing the profiles has been great practice.”
Talley was also able to feed his interests.
“As a history major, it’s kind of cool to learn about some of the history of these businesses,” Talley says. “Burke’s Bakery, for instance, has been in the same family since 1926. I’m more interested in learning about the background.”
The business profiles they’re writing will be featured on the HOD website and shared through social media. Talley’s and Byerly’s final project was to create a promotional brochure highlighting their work, which they presented at the Internship Showcase on May 6.
Talley will remain in Danville this summer, where he’ll be doing another internship for the Community Arts Center. He also plans to enjoy ice cream and dogs at Captain Frank’s Hot Dog Emporium in, of course, downtown.
by Cindy Long
May 7, 2015