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New entrepreneurs like small-town atmosphere

New entrepreneurs like small-town atmosphere
New entrepreneurs like small-town atmosphere
Sarah Byrd Spanopoulos, a native of Corydon, met her husband Frank at Purdue University and they lived in Valparaiso for a time. They returned to Corydon to start the new Culver's restaurant not far from her parents movie theatre. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

Frank and Sarah Spanopoulos are two of Harrison County’s youngest entrepreneurs.
This couple, married just six years, find the area an excellent place to earn a living as partners, settle down and rear a family. After all, this is where she grew up, worked the concession stand in her parents’ movie theater, Corydon Cinemas, graduated from high school, and then left for college.
Frank and Sarah, both 31, met at Purdue University, at a fraternity party in November 1991.
‘I asked her to my Christmas formal,’ he said, ‘Probably from then on, we really started to date, non-stop.’
Now the two have returned to the home where Sarah’s roots run deep. They were married at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church near New Middltown in June 1996 and live in Cedar Pointe, a subdivision west of Lanesville. They have a daughter, Morgan, 2-1/2.
‘We’re really pleased,’ Frank said of their neighborhood. ‘There are lots of young people there with kids, so Morgan has someone to play with.’
Corydon is quite different from Valparaiso, Frank’s hometown, but in some ways the same.
‘Living in Valparaiso, I loved going into Chicago, doing all the things Chicago had to offer.’ Frank said. ‘Once we had Morgan, I really liked the small town atmosphere, good schools, and we’re close to Louisville, with the big city taste.
‘The thing that impresses me the most? The people.’
Frank and Sarah opened their Culver’s restaurant franchise in Corydon on Sept. 29, 2003, and they’ve been hard at work ever since.
‘We’ve already established a loyal following,’ he said last week.
Sarah, who was either at West Lafayette during college or in Valparaiso after she and Frank married, returned to Corydon after an 11-year absence.
‘It’s amazing to me how much it’s grown over time, in such a short period of time,’ she said. ‘When I was in high school, we didn’t have any place to go.’
Both Sarah and Frank earned degrees at Purdue, she in industrial engineering, he in health sciences. She’s the organizer; he’s a people person, so the two complement each other especially well in the business world. ‘We always wanted to go into business together,’ Frank said. ‘We didn’t know what that would be, but when Culver’s opened in Valparaiso, I said, ‘I think this would really go over in Corydon.’
‘We looked into a franchise, liked what we saw, and decided to go for it.’
The Corydon store has the smallest customer base of the eight restaurants in Indiana but already ranks third in sales, he said.
But there is a world outside.
An avid golfer, Frank’s a 10-handicapper and shoots in the lower 80s. ‘I love what they have done with Old Capitol,’ he said of the Corydon golf club.
He is looking toward the day he can play a round or two at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, considered one of the premium courses in the United States.
Actually, both Frank and Sarah are sports fans, especially college sports.
‘Our next-door neighbor is a Purdue fan; across the street is an Indiana fan,’ he said. ‘We’ve had some fun already in the short time we’ve been here, bantering back and forth.’
Although Frank’s the newcomer, Sarah’s a different person now than before she left town.
For starters, she has an appreciation for what she had before ‘ her family, the small town atmosphere ‘ and didn’t know it.
‘It’s unfortunate it takes something like being away for so long to appreciate those things,’ Sarah said. ‘This is really a great area to be around.’
Her parents are Edsel and Betty Byrd of Corydon. And she has a younger brother (Christopher’s hike to the top of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro is featured today in the Flair section) and sister, Susan Gorin, 38, of New Middletown. Frank is the son of Jim and Helen Spanopoulos of Valparaiso. He has a younger brother, Eddie, 31, also of Valparaiso.
Both have a bit of advice for others.
From Frank:
‘Never be afraid to take on a new challenge.’ They both had good jobs, he said, but when the new venture beckoned, they seized the moment. ‘It’s been a trying, difficult year with all the changes, but it’s definitely paid off.
‘We have customers who say, ‘Many years ago, I wanted to do something like this. You guys had the guts to do it.’ ‘
And Sarah:
‘Along those same lines: there’s always bumps in the road. But once you get over those bumps, there’s a feeling you get from conquering those challenges.’

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