Arts and eats: Stone Town Gallery & Cafe fills niche in Huntingdon

Mirror photo by Cherie Hicks / Bonnie Willis prepares some salads for a recent lunch crowd.

HUNTINGDON — Debra Tumlin just wanted a place to display and sell her mosaics and other stained-glass creations. So, she and her partner opened a small gallery downtown here in 2011 that co-existed very nicely with an adjacent cafe.

But after the cafe closed and their list of affiliated artists grew exponentially, they bought a bigger place for their gallery and opened their own eatery.

Today, Stone Town Gallery & Cafe is a hopping place to eat and to check out art, including Friday night musical performances for which you probably need to make a reservation.

“We get a lot of out-of-town visitors who come in and say they wish they had something like this where they’re from,” said Caroline Gillich, co-owner.

The building itself is a near work of art. The well-kept, three-story Victorian was built at the turn of the 19th century by a dentist and occupied for years later by an accounting firm. Tumlin and Gillich renovated it, installed a commercial kitchen and poured concrete for a large patio out back. It’s big enough for them to rent space to a beauty shop, a licensed massage therapist and a violin teacher downstairs; the couple lives upstairs.

Artwork greets you at the front door, which has a stained-glass window made by Tumlin that features a Native American scene, reflecting the artist’s Cherokee roots.

There are several dining rooms, as well as a counter, and breakfast is served all day.

“The fresh-baked scones have become really popular,” said Gillich.

She noted that the most popular breakfast orders are the breakfast mess, which is Cajun-seasoned home fries with peppers, onions, scrambled eggs, cheddar and crumbled bacon or sausage, and the big breakfast of two eggs, home fries, bacon or sausage and pancake or French toast. Both are $7.95 each.

For lunch, sandwiches are popular, including the classic BLT, chicken salad and the cheesesteak pretzel melt. At least two house-made soups are available on any given day; New England clam chowder and tomato basis were recent options.

Salads are options, as well, and can be part of the “pick two” special for $7.95.

Lunchtime is popular, so it may not be the best time to shop for artwork and crafts, which line the walls of the two dining rooms, a hallway, the landing of the beautiful wooden staircase and even the restroom.

Dave Berger of Huntingdon said he appreciates the ambience, as well as the food, and comes in about every other week.

“I like the atmosphere. There’s always something new and beautiful,” he said.

During a recent lunch hour, he was having dessert first, a chocolate almond scone. He also had ordered the chowder and turkey bacon club.

“These guys are always doing stuff to support the community,” Berger said. “It’s so nice to come eat here and support them. And Bonnie is awesome.”

Bonnie Willis is the cook. She spent the latter part of her youth in the area and trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, Florida.

“She is quick, but this isn’t fast food,” said Tumlin.

The cafe has an abbreviated menu on Friday nights, the one night it is open later, consisting mostly of sandwiches, salads and paninis. But it also has one themed dinner special that changes every week. Mexican food may be offered one week, Italian to include chicken alfredo the next, followed by crab cakes or a surf and turf salad. Those can run from $9 to $16.

The specials on Friday coincide with music night on the patio.

“We have a lot of fantastic musicians in this area, which is why we started Friday night music,” said Tumlin.

They are bringing in Izzy BSoul, a “budding young artist” from Nash­ville on July 20, the third Thursday of the month that coincides with the town’s Art Walk.

Music is moved indoors in case of inclement weather. But capacity is much lower; inside it’s about 40; outside, it’s about 90, although they had as many as 120 on the patio once for a wedding — their own three years ago.

Partners for nearly two decades, they got married as soon as it became legal for them to do so. Gillich relocated from Hunterdon County, New Jersey, in 1998 to become the field hockey coach at the nearby Juniata College, a job she still holds fulltime. Tumlin moved to the area in 1972 with her father who had a hunting camp nearby, and she worked for years in factories in the region while honing her hobby of creating stained-glass art.

Tumlin hooked up with the thriving artistic community here, and today hosts more than 60 in her gallery who handcraft items including jewelry, woodwork, leather bags, pottery, soaps and lotions, doll clothes, custom cards, photography, oils and watercolors.

The local Stories and Stitches club meets here every Tuesday to crochet, knit, spin, paint, make books and more.

“We say it’s better than therapy,” said member Judy Earlston.

And the food is a bonus.

“Their pancakes and stuffed French toast are, oh my gosh, good,” she said.

Another group comes in about once a week, Bill Houl­din and friends who are working on a nearby renovation for Habitat for Humanity. “The food is excellent,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.

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Stone Town Gallery & Cafe

511 Washington St., Huntingdon

(814) 506-8356

Online: www.facebook.com/StoneTownGallery

Atmosphere: Casual

Hours: Open daily 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 8 p.m. on Friday, until 3 p.m. Saturday and until 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Prices: Crepes start at $3.50, and a full breakfast is about $8. Paninis and sandwiches at lunch start at $7. “Pick Two” is $7.95 and the choices are a half sandwich, a half crepe, a half salad and a cup of soup.

Rotating specials: Limited lunch menu and dinner specials are served on Friday music night.

Notes: Takeout orders, reservations, especially on Friday evenings, catering and delivery within town limits.

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