If Elkins were a town of murals, the bright yellow entrance with orange trim and lettering inviting folks into the Kissel Stop would surely be mistaken for one. Splashed against a wall of 100-year-old brick and an aged, rusty emergency fire escape hanging above the door, the entrance looks more like a painting on an old brick building than the entrance to one of the most popular dining and conversation spots in town.
The cafe's ambiance is as relaxing or quieting as its front is alive and inviting. While one dines on freshly baked goodies or superb sandwiches, or simply has a cup of the nearly limitless flavors of coffees, cappuccinos, teas, mocha lattes, smoothies or frappes with a friend or business associate, it is hard not to believe that he has been transported back into the past, while at the same time being in the midst of the computer-dominated 21st century. Also, when the weather is balmy and quiet, Jay and Sandy Kissel place small tables with sunbrellas on the sidewalk adding a touch of Old World European milieu.
At the Kissel Stop, patrons can imagine that they are travelers in two worlds. With the tabletops decorated with images of some of the most powerful steam locomotives ever built and with memorabilia of their era and pastoral scenes decoratively placed and painted on the walls, it is hard not to feel transported back into a long-ago era of leisure, luxury and comfort while at the same time being reminded of the speed of the current times by those huddled around their laptop computers.
Placed above some of the tables on a simulated railcar luggage rack are ancient ladies' traveling hatboxes and suitcases adding yet another touch of nostalgia of a bygone era.
If you haven't treated yourself to the experience of dining or simply having a cup of your favorite hot or cold beverage with a friend at the Kissel Stop Cafe, you are missing an exciting and pleasurable experience. The cafe also features free Internet access so you can "stay tuned" to the world while you enjoy breakfast, lunch or just a short break from your labors of the day. Or, take a break from the fast-paced world and simply sit back, relax and enjoy a trip back in time.
If you would like to view the menu and call your order in for pickup, or to save time while dining in, it can be viewed and downloaded at www.kisselstop.com.
The United Way of Randolph County will host its annual fundraising kickoff auction next Saturday at the United Methodist Church. The auction will get under way around 10 a.m. Those who have items they wish to donate to the auction are encouraged to get them to the United Way office on Henry Avenue as soon as possible. Those items received prior to Sept. 1 are on display at the federal building until Sept. 11.
United Way Executive Director Cindy Nucilli said at last week's monthly board meeting that donated items will be accepted up until the day of the auction.
Nucilli also wants the public to know that the United Way conference room is available for public or private meetings. According to Nucilli, the room, which seats 30 people, is available during regular office hours and may be reserved for evening use by calling 304-636-0516. The kitchen and coffee is also available, all for a nominal fee of only $25.
Business was brisk last Sunday morning when I stopped in at the 301 Coffee Company to see how the public was responding to having the out-of-town newspapers available again. From my perspective, they were doing quite well. Owner Sally Yeager said that they had sold out of several of the papers already, but people were steadily coming in and asking for various papers. It was also nice to see folks reading their paper while sipping their favorite coffee or other hot beverage. It reminded me of the Books-A-Million in Charleston, although not quite as big of a crowd. Thanks Sally for bringing the papers back to town.
ON TRAC Elkins is on track. (I love the name of the program - it lends itself to puns so easily.) Chairwoman Ellen Spears convened the first meeting Aug. 27 in Mayor Duke Talbott's conference room to prepare for the upcoming work plan session that will be in the Elkins Depot Caboose Room on Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
The four required committees were formed with Spears heading up the Organization Committee, Ed Griesel chairing the Design Committee, Rachel Phillips heading up the Promotion Committee and Judy Guye chairing the Economic Restructuring Committee.
One of West Virginia's premier photographers, Steve Shiluta from the West Virginia Department of Commerce, will be in Elkins Oct. 14 to take photos for the ON TRAC programs. Guye, Kadra Cassidy, Martha Metheny and Spears will be present to show Shiluta around town.
The Smith Travel Research hotel/motel statistics for West Virginia for June 2009 and those for the year-to-date 2009 numbers compared to the same period last year make for some interesting reading. Here are the numbers for June 2009:
n Occupancy rate, 66.3 percent, down 2 percent
n Average daily rate, $79.02, down 1.2 percent
n Revenue per available room, $52.38, down 3.2 percent
n Room demand (number of rooms sold), 520,293, down 1.8 percent
The year-to-date numbers were:
n Occupancy rate, 56.5 percent, down 0.6 percent
n Average daily rate, $75.4, down 1.6 percent
n Revenue per available room, $42.63, down 2.1 percent
n Room demand (number of rooms sold), 2,674,258, up 0.6 percent.
Looks like folks are still holding onto their money.
Another interesting trend among travelers, according to the West Virginia Division of Tourism, is that as the economy continues to weigh on them, a recent report from Y-partnership found that while chain-affiliated accommodations are still preferred by eight out of 10 travelers, preference for independent lodging is up.
This is influenced by two factors, according to the report. First, more consumers are becoming interested in the novelty and character of independent properties, and secondly, they are looking for a better value seeking independent lodging alternatives.
The top three factors leisure travelers are now considering when booking accommodations are value for the price, location of property and room rate. While two of the factors were stated by the same percentage of respondents as last year, value for the price grew from 82 percent to 88 percent.