We are a weekly newspaper serving the communities of Exeter, Lindsay, and Woodlake California.

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1990s. Between the 1980s and 1990s the station was remodeled into a restaurant. By 1999 the building was ravaged by fire, but the restaurant was closed by that time. It wasn't repurposed until 2004 when Doug and Luci Long took on the venture to con- vert it back into a restaurant titled Orange Blossom Junction. e restaurant closed less than 10 years later in 2012. But during their stay Orange Blossom Junction invited a number of premier musical artists into the area. For Exeter residents, the challenge to make a place like Merryman Station work on the eastern stretch of Highway 198 just past Spruce is well known. It seemed as if turning that place around revolved more than a top. But owners Amanda and Darren omas decided that Merryman Station doesn't need to be any- thing more than what it is. And by 2015 the two embarked on their "two year labor of love" as Amanda calls it. "We love Ex- eter and we are just so happy to take an old place and make it beautiful," Amanda said. By the time they got the keys to the place they had their work cut out for them. As she puts it, almost everything of true value was gone such as the chandeliers and other more expensive items. Of course that was okay because that gave her a clean canvas to work with. Amanda admits that she's al- ways wanted a small sandwich shop or coffee spot or something of the sort, but knows that is not in the plans for Merryman Station right now. "I originally wanted to do a little café or gelato place," she said. "ere's still time that maybe one day someone will rent out the little shed next door and make it a little eatery." It has been one step at a time for the couple who has three kids and their own construction business to tend to. However, that didn't stop them from throwing themselves into the place. With Darren's design and a little help from designer Der- rick Brinkman out of Tulare, they managed to put their vision into practice. "We have touched every single inch of this place," Amanda said. "e inside felt like it had a lot of wood so the brick was a nice addition…we also wanted to stay true to the building and I felt like we really did that." In fact the hand rails outside leading up to the front window wall were actual rails from the rail- road tracks that ran right in front of the building. As well, by just peer- ing over the side of the front deck, Dar- ren had actually un- covered the original rails still laid down. Amanda said that they had always been there but were cov- ered up by previous owners for design purposes. But now that they have the building they want it to exude its history making it an even more enticing place for events. Amanda said that this time of year is the busiest, and as a hands-on owner she has no shortage of work to do. She joked that the place is practically booked and her voicemail is never not full. But events are not the only thing Merryman Station does now. Fulfilling another wish of hers, Amanda has em- braced the boutique at the front of the store. ey filled their quaint marketplace with unique gifts from all over the state and welcomes any local artists that would like to showcase or sell their designs. And the place is filled wall to wall with plenty of interesting souvenirs and handmade trinkets. So this holiday season while taking a trip up to the Sequoias or perhaps looking for the best place for your holiday get together, call Merryman Sta- tion at (559) 804-4000. "We have touched every single inch of this place. The inside felt like it had a lot of wood so the brick was a nice addition…we also wanted to stay true to the building and I felt like we really did that." A m A n d A T h o m A s C o - o w n e r , M e r ry M a n S tat i o n 14 M I N E R A L K I N G P U B L I S H I N G , I N C . F S G N E W S . C O M

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