Nearly a year after its doors closed to the public, Mullen's Dairy Bar and Eatery is scheduled to reopen at its original Main Street location Monday.
After a number of hurdles, the business's future owners Adam, Josh and Matt Keepman plan to unveil the renovated, slightly modernized Mullen's with a menu featuring its traditional ice cream treats and drive-in fare along with a few new items like salads and quiche.
Over the past several months, the building has seen a number of renovations that seek to retain Mullen's nostalgic feel while providing much needed modern amenities like a first floor ADA compliant bathroom.
Mullen's closed last summer after the owners of the building at 212 W. Main St., Ron and Gloria Luepke, refused to renew the lease of former operator Troy Milbrath.
Milbrath and his wife, Shannon, entered into purchasing agreement with the Luepkes in 2005, but after Milbrath filed for bankruptcy in 2010, the Luepkes chose not to renew the lease which expired July 2016.
In September 2016, Milbrath made public his desire to reopen Mullen's in a new location but was arrested weeks later on 16 felony charges and three misdemeanors that allege he opened and used credit cards and took out loans in the name of his business partner. Milbrath is currently awaiting a May 18 status conference in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
Meanwhile, both Milbrath and the Luepkes remain involved in a trademark dispute over the Mullen's brand. Both parties allege that they have rights to the name, but a decision has yet to be rendered by the U.S. Trademark and Trial Appeal Board.
The Luepkes recently filed for a summary judgment, which Milbrath's attorney Daniel Kattman said his client will counter.
"The decision in those matters may dispose of the whole case in favor of one party or the other," Kattman said.
Kattman added that since 2010, the Milbraths' company, Bigger than Bill, has used the name without claim of ownership from another party.
"In U.S. trademark law, if you stop using a trademark for three or more years, then you've abandoned the trademark," Kattman said. "In our case, the Luepkes didn't use the name after they sold the business to the Milbraths."
Ron Luepke declined to comment specifically on the matter but said he hopes to have the dispute settled soon.
"We're opening Mullen's Dairy on Monday as it should be," Luepke said. "The building and the name have been there for 85 years. We look forward to seeing a lot of past and new customers. We've had unbelievable support from community leaders to open the business again in that location."
If Mullen's soft openings on Wednesday and Thursday were any indication, the community's support for the upcoming grand opening is indeed strong. Dozens of the Keepman brothers' family and friends were in attendance along with several of the community leaders Luepke spoke of.
Josh Keepman said the soft openings provided a chance for he and his brothers to thank those who helped make the reopening possible.
"It was important for us to honor the people and their families who helped get this special community landmark back in shape and ready for another 85 years," he said. "Over the weekend, we'll be adding some last minute finishing touches to make sure everything is ready come Monday."