A FAMILY PLACE: Jack and Jill Nut Shop transfers from father to daughter

When Kamady Rudd Lewis was a teenager working in her parents’ shop on Van Buren Street, she never imagined that one day she would take over.

She moved away from Brown County and began a career in TV news and sports broadcasting in Ohio. Now, she’s come back to her Hoosier roots with her husband and son, stepping in as the new owner of the Jack and Jill Nut Shop.

Lewis and her husband Ronnie took over the store for her father, Marc Rudd, who had owned and operated the shop for the past 40 years.

She said that he joked with her saying that she never wanted to run the shop.

“I said I didn’t want to ‘run’ it, but I wanted to own it,” she said. “I wanted to keep it in our family.”

Marc took over for his own father, Leslie, who opened the shop in 1967. Ever since the shop opened it has been a fixture on Van Buren Street, the main strip through town, with smells of warm cashews welcoming visitors in.

The transfer from Marc to his daughter started this past August. Lewis said they had talked about shifting ownership for some time, but she did not think it would happen so soon.

Lewis said she did expect to retire from TV news, but that she didn’t expect coming back to own the shop early in her career.

Covering difficult issues around the pandemic, elections and more, Lewis said that media wore her out mentally. She anchored a morning show, which meant waking up at 2 a.m., in hair and makeup by 4 a.m. and on air by 6 a.m.

Now she expects a change of pace.

“It’s been the best few months,” she said.

Though it was soon, Lewis said that the timing was good, being able to experience their first official October with Marc still in the shop “showing them the ropes.”

“I worked there my whole life, but never was behind the scenes,” she said.

Lewis said Rudd has worked 10 to 12 hour days, seven days a week for 40 years. “He’s made it what it is,” she said.

Though he’s turned it over officially, he will still be around helping and working.

“It’s still his baby,” she said.

The biggest thing they’ve heard from customers since announcing the transition was to not change a thing. Lewis said there are no plans to do so.

“We’re not going to touch the space,” she said. The biggest and only change will be the addition of a website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

Times have changed since the shop began and now they’re able to take online orders, Lewis said.

They recently had about 10 to fill in one day.

“My dad was shocked people ordered anything online from us,” she said. “(He) was so blown away.”

They may add another roaster or counter at some point in the future, but that is down the road.

Rudd went to Ball State University and served in Vietnam before working in the shop with his father. After his father suddenly passed away, Lewis said Rudd took over essentially overnight.

“All the stuff he’s had to teach us, he learned on his own,” she said.

For the past 40 years, it’s been her dad, mom, aunts and nieces in the busier seasons. When it quiets down Rudd runs the shop on his own.

Lewis’ mother, Kelly, retired this year from the Brown County School Corporation. With Lewis moving back to Brown County, she said her parents can go into full grandparent mode, spending time with her 2-year-old son Reagan.

“They have him at least a couple hours every day,” she said.

Lewis said she’s always said her parents are “disgustingly in love.”

“They’re just looking forward to spending that time together,” she said.

Lewis said her husband and father are quite similar and seeing them work together has been fun.

“It’s been really fun, to see their relationship and how well they get along,” she said.

Lewis said they were a little nervous about the change, taking over a well-known and loved establishment, but the feedback they’ve received so far has been great, she said.

“We’re honestly just so grateful,” she said. “It’s been a nice transition for us. It was a change, but nothing is changing.”

When visitors come into the shop, they can expect to see their favorites: Gummy bears, lemon drops, turtles, spiced nuts, warm cashews and toffee. They can also expect the atmosphere of a family-owned establishment.

“We’re always in there together,” she said. “(Customers) know it’s a family place.”