DANVILLE, Ind. — Since 1989, the Mayberry Cafe has been one of the most well-known locally-owned restaurants in Hendricks County— and in central Indiana. It’s even been used as a backdrop for an upcoming movie called “The Mayberry Man.”
But before any of that, the little cafe on Danville’s courthouse square was called the Main Street Cafe Bakery and Deli. Then when it went up for sale, a pair of newlyweds named Brad and Christine Born decided to take a risk in their first year of marriage— combining Brad’s love of cooking and his favorite iconic TV show.
We’re off to the Mayberry Cafe on this trip to trip In Your Neighborhood.
“One Sunday afternoon we were literally over there sitting on the courthouse lawn,” Christine Born recalled. “And [my husband Brad] said, ‘What about Mayberry? I always wanted to live in Mayberry.”
Knowing her husband had always had a passion for cooking and always dreamed of opening his own restaurant, Christine gave it some thought.
Then she got a sign.
“I happened to see a Mayberry cookbook and I started thinking, ‘That could be cute. That could be fun… I could run with this,’” she said.
So they did.
And for the last 30 years, Christine and Brad have brought a little slice of Mayberry to Danville.
Just look for the iconic squad car sitting on courthouse square in downtown Danville. For the record, it actually runs and when life was more “normal” pre-pandemic, they’d drive it in parades.
“But we don’t use it for deliveries,” Christine noted.
Next to the squad car, you’ll find the two story café. Step inside, and you’ll discover an escape to all things “Andy Griffith Show”– which was always Brad’s favorite. Christine says he even used to take his lunch breaks to watch it.
So his expertise made it a perfect fit to help put together the kind of cafe setting could transport people right into the show.
Re-runs air all day long all each of the televisions inside. And all around the cafe is a treasure trove of show-related items and gift-shop goodies.
“On both floors we have memorabilia from the show. Some has been signed by the cast,” she pointed out. “We have the Barney on the Wheaties box right there. Got some from Jim Nabors … So, it is all things Mayberry.”
Cast members have even stopped in—including Gomer Pyle himself—the beloved Jim Nabors, whose first visit came by surprise while he was in town for the Indianapolis 500.
“It was Friday before the race and his plane had gotten in early,” Christina recalled. “He came with a police escort…So, that kind of brought our attention. They sat him down in a booth and he had fried chicken and strawberry shortcake and was just real genuine and kind to everyone.”
Nabors clearly had good taste in comfort food since their “Aunt Bee’s fried chicken” is one of the most popular items on the menu. Another fan favorite is their deep fried breaded tenderloin, which earned a spot on the Indiana Tenderloin Lovers Trail.
“Also, our meatloaf is made from scratch. Brad comes in every morning and makes the soups from scratch so there’s still a lot of homemade comfort type food. But those are probably some of the best ones,” she added.
And everything pairs well with their signature Huckleberry Lemonade.
For many, a trip to Mayberry Cafe feels less like a restaurant and more like visiting family.
They even know how to get kids to clean their plates.
“We have a couple of shelves of ‘Opie Tokens’ toys [in the gift shop area],” Christine explained. “You get a token with your kids’ meal and if you clean your plate, you get to either get a sundae or a toy.”
Loyal fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” have been known to plan vacations around visiting the cafe. Some have come from as far as New Zealand, Germany and England.
On the day we visited, Debbie Purtell and her family came from New Jersey to check this visit off their bucket list.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! There’s a Mayberry! We’ve got to go!’ said Purtell. “And it is exactly what I thought it would be… The guys were checking out the cop car.. it is beautiful. And I like that they have the TVs that we can watch [the show] while we are eating our food.”
But it was the locals who Born says really helped the cafe through a challenging 2020. Like other local businesses, Mayberry Cafe had to make major adjustments throughout COVID shutdowns– including strict sanitizing protocol, transitioning to higher volume carry-out orders, implementing outdoor dining and other measures.
“We’ve been real fortunate and grateful. A lot of the locals still came whether,” she said. “The town supported us immensely and so has the visitors bureau.”
Over the course of the last year, she says people have looked to Mayberry Cafe not only as a bit of an escape but also for a comforting taste of home when they needed it most.
“Even when COVID first happened, I think people wanted things that they knew and were comfortable with,” Born recalled. “I would hear things like ‘I was missing your chicken’ or ‘I was missing your meatloaf…. I was missing the broccoli and cheese soup,’ that kind of thing.”
And Mayberry Cafe was there as always to fill stomachs– and hearts– hungry for a little taste of Mayberry.
“We try to make them feel good not just with the food but with the environment,” she said.
Four Things You Need to Know About Mayberry Cafe:
- Brad and Christine Born have owned the Mayberry Cafe (located at 78 W. Main Street) in Danville for over 30 years. The building itself was built in 1844 and used to serve as a dry good store. However, when they initially purchased the business it was named Main Street Cafe Bakery and Deli. But they soon decided to overhaul the name and theme of the restaurant based on Brad’s favorite TV show: “The Andy Griffith Show”. Thus, Mayberry Café was born.
- The cafe is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., offering both indoor and patio seating. They also offer catering and carryout. If you can’t make it in to the restaurant, you can still shop their gift shop online.
- Inside the two story structure, you’ll find lots of theming and memorabilia—including items signed by members of the “Andy Griffith Show” cast, many of whom have actually visited the cafe on several occasions. In the restaurant’s front entryway, you’ll find a gift shop area full of fun trinkets and collectibles but one of the biggest focal points is actually outside: the iconic Mayberry squad car.
- The cafe is always a focal point at the annual Mayberry in the Midwest Festival, which traditionally happens every third weekend in May. Unfortunately, the festival has been cancelled again this year due to COVID-19 but they say they are looking forward to hopefully resuming the festivities in 2022.
For more information on Mayberry Cafe, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect on social media via Facebook and Instagram.
While in Danville, check out these other local favorites: