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Friday, May 6, 2016

Mr. Murphy's, a new place for family entertainment

Friday, June 30, 2006

Andy McCammon photos

Clark and Deone Merker (above) in the newly-refurbished Mr. Murphy's, 16 W. National Avenue in Brazil. (Below) A few of the pieces in the Merkers' growing collection of arcade and table games.

When Clark and Deone Merker moved to from northern Minnesota to Brazil, they couldn't help but notice an abject lack of entertainment options.

There were bars aplenty, but nowhere particularly welcoming to families.

"When we came down. . .Well, we noticed that there really isn't a lot to do," Deone said.

But with the May opening of Mr. Murphy's-- an expansive game room, music venue and restaurant housed in the former location of Murphy's five-and-dime at 16 W. National Avenue-- that void has been filled. The business' May opening represented the fulfillment of a life-long dream for Clark, an engineering professor at Rose Hulman, and Deone, a dispatcher for the Brazil City Police Department.

"It's been a really, really slow process," Deone said. "It's a labor of love."

The Merkers bought the space in March of 2003. The structure sat unused for around eight years prior, and the time and money they invested to renovate it has been considerable.

"It was dank. It had not been loved," Deone remembered. "Most people who walked through here couldn't have pictured anything like this."

Clark did most of the work himself: Resurfacing floors, painting, gutting the existing electrical system and a long list of other improvements.

"All the dirty work has been done by him," Deone said. "He's had very little help."

During the two-year ordeal of rehabbing the building, the Merkers began to amass an impressive collection of arcade games, pinball machines, air hockey and pool tables and the like.

According to Clark, "(the delay) gave us time to acquire equipment as we found it."

Now that the space has been cleaned, refurbished and decorated, the Merkers hope the community responds. Clark said early indications have been favorable, but he's not done tinkering with the formula.

He plans to host programs for children and is contemplating teaching a class in juggling, another hobby. He's also in the early stages of planning an indoor miniature golf course on the second floor of the building, though he admitted it would take a year or two to complete.

In the meantime, the Merkers hope to prove a genuine demand for family entertainment in Brazil.

"We just think it's something that's really worth trying," Deone said. "If we break even, then we can be happy we provided a place where Brazil families can go out and be together."

Mr. Murphy's is also available for private parties. To book a party or inquire about performing on the Mr. Murphy's stage, contact the Merkers at (812)841-1321. Store hours are 6 p.m. to midnight on Thursdays and Fridays and noon to midnight on Saturday.

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