Editor’s note: This story was first published in the Harlan County Journal. Nebraska Rural Living has shared it here with the Journal’s permission.
It was just over a year ago that Eric Overmiller of Phillipsburg, Kansas began his quest to seek the affections of his now wife Tara. His story actually began in January 2016 when he invited Tara to lunch after noticing that she frequently was “liking” many of his inspirational posts on Facebook. Treading cautiously, he set up the cliché “out” in case things didn’t go well. While it wasn’t a terrible date, there were several circumstances which made Eric feel he had “botched” this date and he requested a do-over, hence begins his story.
Being the cavalier, gentlemanly man he was, Eric went all out to make up for the first encounter. He had big plans with a horse and carriage arranged in Kearney, but when he spoke to Tara earlier in the day, she indicated she did not want to travel so far after a long day. So Eric buckled up his bootstraps and rearranged plans to create a similar experience in Hays, Kansas. Again Tara argued that after a long day, she would prefer to stay within a half-hour drive.
Alma restaurant goes above and beyond
Not to be shut down and with little time to spare, Eric once again rearranged plans and stumbled upon Simmy’s in Alma as an option. Never having been to the restaurant before and not knowing what it offered, Eric made a last ditch effort and called owner Cody Simmons. After hearing the saga, and even thought it was a busy Saturday night, Cody couldn’t let his fellow man down. He left his post at the restaurant and searched town to find candles and flowers for Eric. Upon arrival, the two had arranged for a chilled glass of Tara’s favorite wine to be waiting at the table. The booth was elegantly decorated, and Cody even arranged to have their server decked out in a suit and tie to make the occasion even more momentous, after all, although Tara may not have known it yet, Eric had shared with Cody that he had a feeling this could be “the one.”
Eric’s efforts certainly did make an impression on Tara. The two were wed nine months later and at the reception, Tara even shared the story of how Cody went above and beyond during a speech which drew “awws” from the more than 400 guests. That speech also led to requests from attendees for the name of the restaurant so they could come up and try it as well. The happy couple have now decided to make it a tradition to visit Simmy’s each year on the anniversary of that first date.
Small town businesses often go the extra mile
The true reason that Eric contacted Harlan County Journal was not to share their love story, but to bring awareness to the community and to highlight how small town businesses truly are hidden gems. It was clear that Eric feels gratefully indebted to Simmons, but he also knows that sometimes these grandiose gestures are overlooked or taken for granted because they are one of the endearing qualities that those of us who live in small towns just adore. It comes as second nature for neighbors to look out for neighbors. It is not unheard of for pharmacies or stores to open their doors when someone is in need. The sense of camaraderie shared among members of a small town is a bond that just can’t be captured in urban areas filled with big box stores, and is the reason so many people return to rural living, or never leave.
Kudos to Simmy’s for reaching out a hand to a stranger in need, and kudos to Eric for making sure that the comfort and charm of small town living does not go unnoticed!