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Gene Coley (left) and Larry Thomas (second to right) get in a political debate over the upcoming elections at the "liars table" in the Geneva Store.

Table of knowledge

story by Sammy Jo Hester

Folks say it has been around since the 1930s, but no one really knows the exact date. It has changed hands, been passed through families, closed down, reopened and closed down again. One thing, however, remains the same. Whenever you see the neon glow of the open sign in the window, there in the back corner of the store will be a group of locals enjoying their coffee in the Geneva Store.

The ring-a-ding of an old bell sounds as you walk in, greeted by the smells of bacon and eggs and the ever-familiar hello of Nanette Stearman, who runs the store with her husband, Paul.

The diner has become a community hangout for local farmers in the morning hours.

Nanette and Paul arrive promptly at the diner at 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday to begin preparing food for their 5 a.m. opening.

“Sometimes when we get here at 4 a few people are already waiting outside the doors,” says Nanette. “We just let them go ahead and start the coffee pot while we cook the bacon and they read the newspaper at the tables.”

Though there are many tables in the restaurant, there are two special ones nearest to the coffee pot where the local farmers all sit. The two tables have been dubbed the “liars table” and the “table of knowledge.” Men sit around reading the daily paper and discussing politics and life.

“It’s the only store around. It’s where I come in every morning, get my coffee and breakfast and talk to everyone in the town,” says local Tim Sandefur.

“The community really keeps this place open,” says Nanette.

Though the diner has been passed between owners about every couple years, Nanette makes no plans of stopping soon.

“I am not someone to sit around and retire. I gotta be doing something. I'm gonna keep it as long as I can until I just cant anymore.”


Nanette Stearman shares the newspaper with Gene Coley, one of the store patrons. "I've been coming here as long as I can remember," says Gene.


Tammy Coots, who owned the Geneva Store before Nanette and Paul Stearman helps make a bacon and salad dressing sandwich on white bread.


Nanette Stearman takes a moment to visit with her Geneva Store patrons and hold Madely Mathias, who had her first birthday the day before. "She's growing up so fast," Nanette says. "Soon she's gonna be 12, and then she'll be all grown up."


Paul and Nanette Stearman open the Geneva Store Monday through Saturday at 4 a.m. Farmers start their days early and need their morning coffee.


After the lunch crowd dies down in the Geneva Store on Kentucky 136, Nanette Stearman starts to clean the floors before the evening patrons come in. "You'd be surprised how much dirt they bring in from the fields with them," says Nanette, "but that is what you get around these farmlands."


The Geneva Store may be a diner, but it also sells milk, bread and small household items to patrons. "We are more expensive, but either you can save the money on gas and come here or you can pay the extra $5 driving to Wal Mart," says Nanette Stearman. Alan Grossman watches as his grandson, Marshall Ford, pays for a lollipop.


Nanette and Paul Stearman end another day at the Geneva Store that started at 4 a.m.

32 of 55 stories