Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eating On The Road - Day 3: 8th Street Confectionery - Fairmont, WV

We had a good tip that there was something to check out along our journey; a little place in Fairmont, West Virginia (just south of Morgantown) called the 8th Street Confectionery. The name alone intrigued me, so we put it on the agenda.

Coming from Detroit, we sometimes forget that our city was once filled with places like the 8th Street Confectionery. As Detroit became abandoned and neighborhoods emptied out, all those small mom and pop businesses went away. The bakeries, candy stores, bars, butcher shops and hardware's that peppered the many neighborhoods of Detroit are gone, with a handful of exceptions. (Ralph outside the famous 8th Street Confectionery in Fairmont, WV)

But in some parts of the country, these kinds of businesses still exist. Located not on a main street but rather in the middle of a neighborhood block, the 8th Street Confectionery (located on 8th Street!) is a small lunchroom that has serviced its Fairmont neighborhood for generations.

Coming into Fairmont you can't help but be distracted by the scenery. The hills and mountains, even this time of year, with their bare trees, draw you in. It was about 62 degrees outside and there was still a lot of snow on the mountains. It's been a hard winter in these parts, with a lot more snow than usual. As you pull in to the downtown, you are immediately taken back in time. The architecture is beautiful - many century old buildings on every block. As I was trying to figure out how to get to 8th Street, it seemed wise to pull into a gas station and get some directions (I've never been too proud to ask a local where to find something!). I pulled into an Exxon station downtown, and before I could get out of the car to start pumping gas, I was approached by a gentleman in a blue shirt with "Steve" embroidered on it and he asked, "How much would you like?" Stunned, I thought for a moment and said, "Fill it up, with regular, please."

I didn't know there were still places on this planet where there are people who actually come out and pump your gas for you! Well, in Fairmont, West Virginia, there's at least one station that still does. "Do you know where 8th Street Confectionery is from here?" I asked him. "Sure do, it's about ten blocks" he said. "Go two blocks, take a left. Go one block take a right. Go eight blocks then a left. You'll see it." Luckily, Ralph had the good sense to write it down before we pulled out of the Exxon station!

No surprise, it was right where he said it was. The entire place consists of a very long counter and about six small booths. The whole place probably seats about 30, and I'm guessing there are times when you can't get a seat. But, we were there at an off time, and there were only about ten others in the place when we walked in. Their speciality is the pepperoni roll, which I wanted to order even though we had just eaten a full lunch less than two hours before. Ralph talked it over with me, and when we saw "White Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie" on the specials menu, I decided to just get a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. (Pictured left: One of the menu boards at 8th Street Confectionery -Pepperoni buns are hot sellers)

Pepperoni rolls are everywhere in this part of the country. Very popular things in many diners and little stands. Hot dogs, too - they're everywhere.

Imagine the heartbreak when the waitress informed us that they were out of the peanut butter pie. She said she still had some "Cherry Delight" left and some coconut meringue pie, too. So, we got a piece of each and a cup of coffee. The desserts were very homemade - fresh and delicious. And for a half hour or so, we took in a little part of a little neighborhood and got a sample of what life was like in this special little town. (Pictured left: The pie and coffee - they serve on the same plates I have at home!)

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