The Dinky on Main is a somewhat unusual name for a restaurant. Then again, with its vintage train theme and classic Americana fare, the Dinky on Main in Due West, South Carolina, isn’t your usual restaurant. And that’s just the way its owner, Richard Arseneau, prefers it.
“The name for the restaurant was inspired by the history of the Due West Dinky Railway Co. that ran through the town from 1908 through 1939,” said Arseneau. “This was my fourth business, but I faced many challenges along the way this time. That’s why I’m particularly grateful for the help I received from Ben Calhoun and the Greenwood Area SBDC.”
Arseneau was familiar with the services the SC SBDC offered, so when he encountered some obstacles in the opening of The Dinky on Main, he didn’t hesitate to contact the local office.
“My initial reason for contacting Ben was to get some assistance with finding a lender,” said Arseneau. “I had already located a space for my business and simply needed to raise the required capital. Unfortunately, I was unexpectedly hospitalized while trying to close the deal and in the interim the space was purchased by another bidder.”
“After Richard lost his preferred location, he and I decided to regroup. So, in addition to searching for a new space and discussing potential lenders, we took the time to reassess his business model and conduct some market research,” said Calhoun.
According to Arseneau, he originally planned to open a small café offering a limited menu of coffee, donuts and light lunch. After considering Calhoun’s feedback, however, he opted to expand to a full menu featuring home-style American fare such as hot dogs, hamburgers, wings, pizza, corn dogs and, of course, ice cream. Then, as fate would have it, Arseneau found the perfect space for his restaurant—which happened to be next door to the original site.
“I was thrilled to be able to find another space in the historic 1908 bank building that initially captured my attention,” said Arseneau. “Now all I needed was the capital. Thanks to the help I received from Ben, I was able to secure a $21,000 loan from Carolina Foothills Community Federal Credit Union and an additional $10,000 for working capital from the Upper Savannah Council of Governments revolving loan fund.”
With the money needed in hand, Arseneau quickly closed the deal and refitted the site to accommodate his restaurant. Despite the obstacles he faced, Arseneau was able to begin serving eager customers six months after his initial meeting with Calhoun.
“Due West is a college town, so I was concerned about opening The Dinky on Main immediately prior to summer break,” said Arseneau. “Fortunately, we’ve been doing a brisk business and posting a comfortable profit. Today, I have seven employees, and I may need to increase that number once school is back in session.”
Calhoun said that he is not surprised by Arseneau’s success. “After my first meeting with Richard, it was obvious that he was passionate about opening a small business in his new hometown of Due West,” he said. “Richard’s persistence, hard work, and commitment to his dream are great examples of the qualities it takes to be an entrepreneur. I have enjoyed seeing his persistence pay off and look forward to seeing The Dinky on Main grow!”
Arseneau said that he is now known throughout his community as “Mr. Dinky,” and that in addition to managing the restaurant he’s ready to tackle his next challenge: running for Town Council. “My journey as a business man has inspired me to take this next step. And, as I’ve witnessed throughout my life: With God, all things are possible.”