Dallas loses familiar smile

Greysmith sells Courtyard Coffee

DALLAS -- Kathy Greysmith never thought other people would want to eat her lunch.

But in five years running the Courtyard Coffeehouse, Greysmith turned Kathy's Lunch -- a dish she had thrown together for herself -- into a Dallas favorite.

Greysmith has sold her shop to return to school. A vegetarian and healthy food fan, she wants to become a nutritional psychologist.

"The whole coffeehouse evolved from within myself and what I'm about without really considering if it would take off or not," Greysmith said. "It worked, I guess."

When it worked, no one was more surprised than Greysmith. Like when she threw together some seasoned mashed potatoes and veggie burgers on a day she was short on ingredients. "I put Kathy's Lunch out and to my amazement, people liked it."

The Courtyard Coffeehouse grew from serving coffee and soup to a full lunch menu after Greysmith took over March 15, 1999 -- her birthday. It also became a hub for downtown's business and government leaders.

Regulars linger over espresso drinks and conversations that stretch into the otherwise dangerous territory of religion and politics. International-themed music, ornate rugs and walls covered with local art works complete the scene.

Greysmith wanted to create a harmonious gathering spot. "I intended to make it a very comfortable community place where people can talk about their beliefs."

The Courtyard Coffeehouse will continue without Greysmith. Ron Burch, who owns the building housing both the caf‚ and The Fox Theatre, has taken over the business.

Burch said he plans to add new menu items and even starting a catering service. He foresees staying open later to catch the evening movie theater crowd and coordinating events between the two.

But Burch said he won't startle regulars by taking away their favorite items. "Kathy really filled -- no, created -- a niche market," he said.

"That's something we want to continue."

For Greysmith, the move comes after several major career changes. She worked as a medical illustrator and graphic artist before moving to Oregon in 1978.

After creating maps and graphics for the state Water Resources Department, Greysmith retired to a 6-acre goat farm in the Eola Hills. Her first baby goats grew up to become American Dairy Goat Association grand champions.

Never having dreamed of running a caf‚, Greysmith nonetheless said the thought just hit her. "I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to do it."

When she finishes her education -- through a correspondence program at an alternative nutrition school in Montr‚al and psychology courses, likely at Western Oregon University -- Greysmith wants to set up shop locally. She hopes to work with teenagers on nutritional issues.

Greysmith might turn to yet other careers, but probably outside the food industry. "If I did something else in sales, it would be something I could just put away if it didn't sell and take it out a month later."

She remembers a palm reading she had before coming to the Courtyard. "The person said `you have a very long lifeline -- you have so many things to do yet.'

"I'm just trying to get them all in."

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