West Virginia Your Way

Things to do in West Virginia!

Restaurant Row in Sutton

Something is happening in Sutton, West Virginia!

A few years ago I visited Sutton and came across a town similar to many downtowns all across America.  Empty storefronts, dust-covered windows and a feeling a despair as a once vibrant downtown was crumbling before the eyes of people who remembered the busier days.

There are reasons for the decline of downtown areas, and I’m sure there are good reasons for the decline of downtown Sutton.  However, this is not about decline, but it’s about a resurrection of a small West Virginia community!

This summer I returned to Sutton and was surprised by what I saw.  The people were redefining their downtown and there was a sense of excitement in the air.  Al Surgei, owner of Summit Media, called the road between Flatwoods and Sutton, “restaurant row.”  He then went on to name five restaurants along that road: Café Cimino, The Town Market, p.j. berry’s, The Century Restaurant and Stancatti’s.  So I visited these restaurants in the order of coming off the interstate at Flatwoods.

You can visit them online too at www.WVyourWay.com.  At the end of each paragraph about a restaurant is the category it can be found in on our Information Engine.  Feel free to browse the site to find what you are searching for.

The first restaurant you’ll come to is Stancattis.  It recently returned to the original owner who is restoring it to the way it used to be.  You will see it on your right after you leave the cluster which has become Flatwoods.

Drive on toward Sutton and when you reach the “Y” you will see The Century Inn Restaurant sitting on your right.  This is the local homestyle restaurant if you’re wanting a taste of the more traditional West Virginia cooking.  The make their breads, pies and other desserts freshCentury Inn Restaurant at the "Y" daily.  Actually, they make nearly everything from scratch and it’s really quite good.  The also have a small gift shop where you can buy local jewelry, candles and other such items. [Restaurants – > Breakfast All Day – > Family – > Home-Style Cooking – > Take Out] [Tourism – > Candles – > Gift Shop]

p.j. berry’s is on the opposite side of the square and it’s located in the old department store bearing the name of Mr. Berry.  Yes, it’s spelled all lower case, so no need to correct me on that one.  This is the newest restaurant in Sutton and it reminds me of a place like the restaurant bar in the old TV show “Cheers.”  However, the emphasis is on restaurant and not the bar. 

Interior photo in p.j. berry's restaurant

The food is also very good and the prices aren’t too bad either.  There is even a section set aside for crafters, which is very nice.  They also serve locally brewed micro beer, which I hear is very good.  I don’t drink beer, so I’ll take their word for it.  [Restaurants – > Casual-Fine Dining – > Micro Brewed Beer – > Sports Bar/Grill]

The Town Market is located on the corner of courthouse square, and it offers some excellent food as well.  The thing I enjoyed most about the restaurant was the menu, though.  That might sound funny, but the names of the sandwiches was quite entertaining and humorous.  The food was delicious and the kind a cut above the ordinary.  The food is grown on their own local farm, so it doesn’t get any fresher.  [Restaurants – > Breakfast – > Casual-Fine Dining – > Family]

Cafe Cimino could be called the anchor  for Sutton and the revitalization of the town seems to be built on the success of this excellent restaurant.  There have been many write-ups in various magazines and newspapers around the state and elsewhere that testify of the high quality of food being served.    When I visited, I looked at it as a trip back in time.  The restaurant is part of the country inn where you can also stay in luxury as part of the lodging facilities.  The difference between a Bed & Breakfast and an Inn is the restaurant that comes with an inn.  In days of yore, inns were required to not only provide a place of rest, but also a place of refreshment and a good meal.

The Cafe Cimino Country Inn

The Inn is located in a late 1800’s mansion built P.J. Berry, a business man of wealth in the area.  The food is a mediterranean/Italian style and the service is done with flair and class.  This is the type of restaurant for special occasions, or when you want a delicious meal and wonderful ambiance.  They also have Mountain Made Products for those interested in taking home a unique West Virginia made product.  [Lodging – > Bed & Breakfast] [Restaurants – > Casual-Fine Dining] [Tourism – > Historic Homes]

So next time you’re passing by Sutton, take a little bit of time to try one of their fine restaurants and discover the other gems in this renewed town.  I will write more about the rest of the town and attractions in the area soon, so come back to check it out.

January 18, 2011 Posted by | Restaurants, Tourism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On The Way to Ski Snowshoe

So you’re heading to Snowshoe in the mountains of West Virginia to do some skiing.  You can speed up and speed back and miss all the points in between, or you can take a few minutes to enjoy some things along the way which will offer some variety from what you will see, and pay, on the mountain.

There are different routes to Snowshoe, so I’ll cover more routes in other blogs.  Let’s start with US 219 between getting off I-64 at Lewisburg and heading north to the mountain.  There are plenty of shopping venues in Lewisburg, so let me just highlight a few.  Downtown there is the Old Hardware Gallery (China, Gift Shop, Jewelry), which has nothing really to do with hardware.  It is mainly a gift shop with a wide variety of unique items to choose from.  They also carry FiestaWare, which seems to be very popular.  I liked it because the staff was very friendly and you can even get a free cup of coffee or glass of lemonade.

The Hardware Gallery in Lewisburg

Bella’s The Corner Gourmet is another place downtown right on the corner of US 219 and US 60 which offers gourmet cheeses and unique gift items.  They even have a very nice suites if you need a place to stay (Cheese Shop, Shopping, Wine Store).  Discount Decorating, which is located between the interstate and downtown offers some very decorating items and gifts for the home.  Plus, the ladies are very friendly and helpful to answer questions (Arts & Crafts, Gift Shop, Primitives).

I love books, and so does Plaid Eagle Antiques located in the downtown area.  They have many rare books dealing with history, and especially West Virginia, that you will drool over.  They have more quality items than most antique shops, so they’re definitely worth taking a look at (Antiques, Books, Collectibles, Primitives, Prints, Quilts, Vintage Clothes).

Now, head north on US 219 and 3.2 miles north of the I-64 you will find the Ruby Rooster Antique Mall.  They have 25 dealers specializing in furniture, glassware, pottery, books, decorative items, primitives and various collectibles.  It’s under a large roof, so be prepared to do some browsing.  There’s also a small bakery and cheese shop located next door (Antiques, Collectibles, Shopping).

Nine miles north of Lewisburg in Frankford is Lowell’s Bakery.  This place has some good eatin’!  If you like hot dogs with chili, you have to try their’s, ’cause they have a smoke flavoring that is making me hungry right now just thinking of it!  Check out their listing on www.WVyourWay.com which has even more information about  this nice little place.  Oh yeah, and they also have some nice memorabilia from the area on the wall (Bakery, Desserts, Pizza).

Continue driving north and you will reach the top of Droop Mountain and enter Pocahontas County.  On this mountain is the biggest Civil War battlefield in the state.  It also has a very nice overlook with a grand view of the Little Levels and Hillsboro.  Once you drive down into Hillsboro you may want to try the Pretty Penny Cafe.  It’s a nice restaurant that utilizes locally grown produce and organic fare to create a familiar but jazzed up version of your favorites (Casual-Fine/Dining, Catering, Family, Wireless Internet, Music).

After leaving Hillsboro and not far after passing US 55 heading toward Richwood, you’ll come across Grandpa’s Pantry on the left.  It’s a little off the road, but there are good signs to guide you.  The small store sits on a knoll and it has some very good cheese and deli products you’ll want to stop and enjoy.  They have Amish selections, sweets, WV made food products and many other tasty items (Amish Goods, Cheese Shop, Country Store).

Right after you pass by Marlinton you’ll go up a hill and sitting on the right is Gunter’s General Store.  They have a slew of WV made crafts, jewelry, candles, wind chimes and other collectibles.  They also have a nice selection of antiques (Antiques, Arts & Crafts, Gift Shop).

Right before you turn up Snowshoe Mountain you’ll see a strip of stores on your right.  From about the middle of that building to the far left you’ll find the Route 60 Why Not Shop.  This is a must stop store with all kinds of gifts.  And I do mean all kinds.  They also have a delicious deli where they serve some of the best sandwiches I’ve had in the state.  It’s also a place you can rent ski equipment.  So stop and tell them you saw them on www.WVyourWay.com! Oh, and spend some time reading all the interesting signs.  You’ll get a good laugh (Biking, Canoeing, Gift Shop, Shuttle Service, Skiing, Tubing)


January 11, 2011 Posted by | Restaurants, Tourism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

No Diving for Weenies!

Bill Johnson standing next to his sign.

“Which eye do I look in?”  That was my first thought as I began talking to Bill Johnson, proprietor of the Johnson Family Campground in Braxton County.  I settled on the left eye finally, but soon thereafter it began to wonder off so I switched to the right eye.  I asked Bill about which eye was the one I should be looking in and he laughed and proceeded to tell me a few stories about his eyes and some of the comments he has heard over the years.  Such as when one of his hunting buddies didn’t think it was fair hunting with him since he could see around trees and look both ways at the same time!

Bill, a Christian man with high morals, tells of his difficulty talking to women wearing low-cut tops.  “They keep pulling up their tops ’cause they don’t know which eye I’m looking out of.”  As I laughed he assured me he was looking into their eyes.

We then took a tour of his campground as he gave me the history of the place.  His Dad bought the property, located on the banks of the Birch River where Long Run empties its waters into the rock strewn river, way back in 1946. 

When I first drove up to Bill’s House, which you come to first, I was first struck by the size of the huge rocks to the left of the house.  Bill pointed out one rock and said, “A 17 year old boy climbed to the top of that rock and it took 4 grown men to get him down!”  The road to the campground goes between those rocks which seems to stand as towering walls protecting the campground.

Rock Walls

Bill and I walked along that road and he showed me his unique picnicking spot on top of one of the rocks.  He also told me about the miles of ATV trails which he could ride for two weeks without crossing the same trail.

As we walked down the road his 40X80 foot pavilion came into sight.  As with many other things at the campground, Bill had built the pavilion using trees he cut as pillars.  He tells me of how they used to have over a thousand people at Gospel sings.  “Once I built the pavilion; though, people quit coming.”  He said they had a sing last year, but it only drew 18 people.

He showed me a sign hanging on the wall near the stage that said Gospel singers had to be fully dressed if they wanted to sing.  I thought that was odd and so asked him about the sign.  He said, “Some people made that sign for me ’cause some of the singers would get up here wearing shorts or bikini’s.  They needed to have more respect for God than that.”

I agreed and we moved on to what I came to realize was the centerpiece attraction of the campground.  In the middle of the river was one of those huge rocks with a deep pool between the rock and the shore.  Shelly, who lives at the campground, told me earlier that Bill, who is 66 years old, dives off that rock and he thinks anyone that won’t dive off the rock like he does, is a “weenie.”  I asked Bill about that and all he would say is he’s been diving off that rock for 60 years and he never jumps.  I took that as confirmation of Shelly’s claim.

No Diving for Weenies!

On the way back he showed me the petrified stump he found and an old millstone that used to grind grain in a nearby mill.  He told me of the bridge over the river seen from his yard that his Dad helped build back in the 20’s, which is now named after his Dad.  He showed me where the horses had cut a trail down the river bank before the bridge was built, and the fording place up the river where wagons used to cross.

If you like talking to men who love their land and care for it like a child, then you need to go camping at the Johnson Family Campground.  You will find it on www.WVyourWay.com listed under the “Lodging” heading and Campgrounds RV’s/tents, or the “Tourism” heading under Fishing and ATV Trails.

As I was about to leave he invited me in the house for a bowl of beans.  I told him how tempting that was, since I could smell them cooking from the kitchen, and asked him if he had a ham bone  in them.  He  replied, “Hickory smoked ham.”  I knew; however, that if I went in for a bowl of beans, I’d still be sitting there listening to Bill tell his intriguing stories.

January 7, 2011 Posted by | Tourism | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Other Dining in Greenbrier County

Greenbrier County, home of The Greenbrier Resort, has some very good restaurants.  Most people know about the fine restaurants in Lewisburg; however, there are restaurants in other parts of the county that might suit your taste as well.  So I’m going to give you a sampling of those restaurants as found on www.WVyourWay.com by searching under the “Restaurant” heading and the categories: Casual/Fine Dining, Family and Homestyle Cooking.

The Mason Jar Restaurant in White Sulphur Springs has a variety of steaks and seafood that is prepared by some of the best chefs in the business.  They have a very nice buffet and the atmosphere is casual/fine dining, but it’s not so stuffy that you can’t laugh out loud with your friends.   [Casual-Fine Dining – > Catering – > Family]

Food and Friends in Lewisburg is the same restaurant that was featured on the Food Network some time back because of their delicious meals.  The breads, served in a clay pot that looks like it should have a plant growing in it, are some of the best breads that go very nicely with the meal.  The whoe experiance of dining is top knotch from the time you enter the restaurant until you leave.  [Casual-Fine Dining – > Seafood – > Steaks]

Rudy’s Corner Grill located off US 219 in downtown Ronceverte is another great place to eat while in the area.  If you are looking for a more down home setting where the locals like to eat, you’ve found the right place.  Their buffet will have you going back again and the waitresses will make you feel as if you’re a neighbor.  [Buffet – > Catering – > Family]

The Dairy Delite Restaurant in Rupert is another homestyle restaurant where you can experiance not only local dining, but the friendliness of the local people as well.  This isn’t just a place to find ice-cream, because they have a full menu of your favorite meals.  Hamburgers are made from 100% ground chuck and their desserts are made fresh. In season they have ramp dinners, fresh catfish and pig roasts.   They’ll even give you a free cookie if you mention you found out about them through WVyourWay!  [Catering – > Country Cooking – > Family]

The Spare Time Sports Bar & Grill is located in the bowling alley north of Lewisburg on US 219 and they serve some very nice meals which you can enjoy while watching your favorite teams on their many TV screens.  Their grille serves the number one burgers, wings and quesadillas in the valley.  [Casual-Fine Dining – > Sports Bar/Grill – > Music]

The Gables Restaurant in Hines, which is between Rupert and Rainelle on US 60, offers dining in a soothing atmosphere for those wanting to enjoy a delicious meal.  Their Bolivian coffee is roasted fresh daily and you can enjoy breakfast items any time of the day. Their menu includes a variety of casual foods from hot dogs and hamburgers to ribs, Rotisserie chicken, crab cakes, fried green tomato sandwiches, fried chicken and steaks and seafood. [Breakfast All Day – > Casual-Fine Dining – > Coffee]

January 3, 2011 Posted by | Restaurants | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Finding Quilt Shops

Colorful Quilts!

When I was a kid of about 9, I remember my Mom taking me to a quilting bee in an old farmhouse near Gandeeville, WV.  When she asked me if I wanted to go, I reasoned that anything involving bees would at least be exciting.  I asked her what a quilting bee was, and she said it was when ladies sat around working on a quilt and talked. She said nothing about where the bees came into the picture, so I at least had to go and check out what Mom didn’t tell me.

When we got there I sat in the corner and watched women working on a quilt with one hand. Why they didn’t use the other hand I had no idea. Yet all I saw was the right hand of eight or so women poking the quilt as they worked. The whole time I sat there not one bee showed up and caused a commotion.  Needless to say I was disappointed and bored.

Fast forward nearly four decades and in that time I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty and cultural significance of quilts and the stories behind them. A fun part of my job with www.WVyourWay.com is that I get to travel around the state to quilt shops and businesses that sell quilts and see the beauty and care often taken in creating what is much more than just a covering for a bed. There is often a history behind the quilts that is as appealing as any found in the best of museums.

If you want to find some of these shops, and talk to the people who quilts and their history, then go to www.WVyourWay.com and click on the “Tourism” heading at the top of the home page. Once you are on the “Tourism” page, scroll down to the letter ‘Q” and click on “Quilts” and “Quilt Shops.” You can narrow your search down to the region you live in or that you want to visit, or simply search the entire state by clicking the “search” button below the map of the state.

When you get your results you’ll find shops such as The Elkins Sewing Center, where you can meet Sue Pifer, who I found to be one of the most knowledgeable and busiest people in the quilting community.

Heart’s Content Quilts in Hinton is a place where you will find a friendly face and beautiful quilts you can browse, “to your heart’s content’, as Brenda Garcia, the owner, says.

The Quilt Shoppe in Summersville recently moved into a much larger building that has been made nearly as comfortable as one of the many quilts they display around the shop. The amount of fabric and related items is also very impressive.

Other shops around the state worth taking a look at are The Sew Inn in Morgantown, Fabric and Foam Sales near Fairmont, Threads That Bind in Princeton, Wolf Creek Gallery and the Quilters Nook in Alderson, Granny’s Sewing Room in Princeton and the Needle Basket in Sutton. There are many more shops and businesses that sell quilts in West Virginia, so to get a complete listing of those places registered with WVyourWay, just go to the site, search for what you are interested in, and plan your own itinerary. And if you run into a bee in your travels, I hope it doesn’t cause too much of a commotion!

January 3, 2011 Posted by | Tourism | , , , , | 5 Comments