Posts Tagged With: Boxer’s Cafe

“What’s the Special Today?”

One dilemma that happens with 80 degree days in April is: “Should I turn on the air conditioning, or not?”  For those of us without central AC, turning on the air conditioning means cleaning windows and sills, cleaning and lugging a window unit out of the basement or attic, mounting it, and hoping the fact that you have never recharged it doesn’t come back to haunt you this summer.  For all of those reasons plus the savings on the electric bill, most of us try to hold out as long as possible before turning on the AC.  With that in mind, we offer this article by our friend Ken Hull, author of Going Local! An Adventurer’s Guide to Unique Eats, Cool Pubs & Cozy Cafes of Central Pennsylvania.  After all, the last thing you want to do on a hot day without air conditioning is cook!  This article first appeared in the 2009  edition of the Raystown Lake Region/Huntingdon County Visitors Guide.  Ken has since published Going Local 2: A Second Helping.  

For some great options for eating out on  a hot April day, visit  Enjoy!

Ken Hull with a beer at Selin's Grove Brewing

Ken Hull

by Ken Hull

I love Huntingdon County. Though a Centre County native through and through, I have close ties to this region to my south and visit often. My buddy’s folks have a cottage along the beautiful Juniata River and I’ve spent many a lazy day drifting quietly in a peaceful cove at Raystown Lake. Not only that, but I live in a structure that grew out of the rich mountain soil of Huntingdon County nearly a hundred years ago. What I mean is; I built a log cabin out of trees that came from a wood lot south of Cornpropst Mills. It’s a beautiful place to live and every time I travel down Rt. 26 I recall the adventure of finding these logs and the great experience of moving them to Boalsburg.

Speaking of adventures and experiences, I’ve recently published a book about them in regards to unique eats, cool pubs and cozy cafés of central PA. The book is called Going Local and it chronicles my journeys as I crisscross the state aboard my 1994 Harley Sportster in search of locally owned places to eat and drink.

One of the best reasons to take a ride, whether by bike or car, is a food destination. My friends and I always look for scenic roads that include, or eventually lead to, a great restaurant, pub or café. And since I’m somewhat of a “gastronomical guru,” I’m always the one in charge of the route we take because my foodie and beer geek friends know we’ll end up with a very cool trip and very happy bellies. The funny thing is that as soon as we crest the Tussey Mountain range outside of Pine Grove Mills and enter our neighbor Huntingdon Co., I know they’re all wondering which roads I’ll choose and where we’ll end up. Because in this place, the roads are amazing and the eats are awesome! But since this is about dining and not a guide to sweet curvy byways, I’ll stick to what makes you go “mmm!”

As I mentioned, I only go to the local places (of which there are many here) and I go for everything from breakfast to dinner, coffee to a beer, and pie to ice cream. Actually, most folks would prefer pie AND ice cream but I like mine separate as to appreciate the differences of each dish. But every once

Going Loca! An Adventurers Guide to Unique Eats, Cool Pubs and Cozy Cafes of Central Pennsylvania by Ken Hull

Going Loca! An Adventurers Guide to Unique Eats, Cool Pubs and Cozy Cafes of Central Pennsylvania by Ken Hull

in a while I “let my hair down” and go for the stack. But only if the pie is warm, otherwise the ice cream doesn’t melt into the pie and create a whole new blend of flavors. However, I digress. Seriously though, Huntingdon Co. has it all, so let me just get to some of the things you’ll find here to fill your stomach, warm your heart and support independently owned businesses.

Breakfast places are a good place to start and why not? Where else can you show up with bed head and be addressed as sweetie no matter your age or gender. Simple dishes like bacon and eggs can be found as well as more gourmet offerings like sweet potato pancakes. Coffee in the morning is most folk’s salvation and you’ll find that at all the breakfast spots. But for me a good latte or cappuccino in the afternoon is always an option and there are even cafés here that offer those.

Lunch is one of those meals that gets the shaft a little I think. You’re either too busy or needing to get somewhere to stop. Well, most of the rest of the world considers lunch the main meal, so if you want to join with them Huntingdon Co. has plenty of places to stop, take some time and enjoy. With great soups, sandwiches and even pizza, your midday meal will not only be yummy but keep you going on your adventures.

Now about dinner; my friends, it’s a tough call here. As I so boldly stated, I’m somewhat of a food snob and most definitely a beer snob. Not that I look down on things like onion rings (which, by the way, there’s a place in Huntingdon that has the world’s best – no lie) because in my book (literally) I consider a good burger as sacred as a good steak. There’s casual as well as fine dining, and let me tell you, you’ll be blown away by both. And, whether a hand-crafted beer or fine wine is your choice with dinner, or a perfectly made martini beforehand, you will find all and in atmospheres that are welcoming and easy-going. No taste bud or stomach is discriminated against here… only embraced.

Yeah, Huntingdon Co. is not just a bunch of scenic roads and beautiful waterways; it’s a place where you can have many great experiences and adventures by just pulling over, pulling up a chair, and saying “what’s the special today?”


Categories: 2009 Visitors Guide, Dining | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Historic Huntingdon: The Architecture

Publisher’s Note:   This article first appeared in the 2006 edition of the Raystown Lake Region/Huntingdon County Visitors Guide.  A new video-guided walking tour was created in 2010 for i-pods and smart phones.

By Sandy Carowick

The town of Huntingdon stands literally at the crossroads of history.  Indian and trader paths, the early turnpike, the Main Line Canal, and the Pennsylvania Railroad, pathways crucial to the movement of people and goods, all either ran through or skirted the town limits.  Few vestiges of the earliest thoroughfares remain, but the Union Depot train station still welcomes the casual visitor to town.  Although currently vacant, it is reminiscent of the pride of place embodied in the structures built in the historic district of Huntingdon.

Huntingdon Union Station from Allegheny Street by Richard Stahl

Huntingdon Union Station from Allegheny Street by Richard Stahl

Once a bustling transportation hub, the train station has been silent since the 1960’s.  The long, two-story structure exhibits a low-pitched roof with bracketed eaves, decorative brick ornamentation, and paired round-topped windows, all Italianate influences from the mid to late 1800’s.  Although alterations have changed the appearance on the Allegheny Street side of the building since its construction in 1872,   these structural elements may still be viewed on the railroad side of the building.  Today this structure awaits rehabilitation for adaptive reuse.

Unlike many small cities and towns across the country, where today abandoned factory buildings dot the streetscape, the J.C. Blair factory building retains its character while continuing to contribute to the allure of historic Huntingdon.  Located two blocks from the Union Depot at the corner of Sixth and Penn Streets, the J.C. Blair factory was once hailed as the “tallest building between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg” (some said Philadelphia!).  Architect F.L. Olds, a Huntingdon native, modeled the design for the structure after H.H. Richardson’s design for the Marshall Field Wholesale Store in Chicago.  John Chalmers Blair, whose factory building exemplified the corporate motto of “Perfect Goods Only,” hired local contractor Henry Snare to build the stone and brick structure.  Snare began work in the summer of 1888, and by July 11, 1889, the Huntingdon Globe proclaimed “J.C. Blair’s mammoth building looms far above other structures—and 24 more feet of wall to be built!”  Converted to housing units in the early 1990’s, the imposing structure retains much of its original stylistic elements and charm.

A stroll along Penn Street and its connecting side streets reveals many exceptional examples of early 19th century homes.  The oldest in the borough, located at 105 Third Street, was built in 1797 by Richard Smith, son of town founder William Smith.  The appearance of the stone house has changed over the years, with improvements including porches and overhanging eaves.  The substantial home was owned or occupied through the years by a number of influential men, including David R. Porter (Governor of Pennsylvania, 1839-1845) and his notable son, General Horace Porter (Civil War veteran; U.S. Ambassador to France, 1897-1905).

The Gage Mansion by Ed Stoddard

The Gage Mansion, Huntingdon, PA photo by Ed Stoddard

The immense and stately Queen Anne structure situated at 317 Penn Street remains largely untouched since its construction in 1896.  The building was designed by George F. Barber and Company of Knoxville, Tennessee for George F. Gage, General Manager of the Huntingdon and Broad Top Railroad.  Except for changes in color and the style of the front porch, the home has changed little throughout the years.  Its asymmetrical design and elaborate ornamentation are hallmarks of the Queen Anne style, and this beautiful home invites a second look.

Not all of Huntingdon’s historic architectural features are visible from the outside.  To really appreciate Huntingdon’s past one must step through the doors and examine some of the marvelous interior features.  The interior of Boxer’s Café, located at 410 Penn Street, enhances the dining experience.  The brick building, constructed in 1865 by John Read to replace a previous wooden structure, was touted as “the first modern business building in Huntingdon.”  Today the original façade remains, including windows, iron window ornaments, and the store front, even the company name “Read’s” is still visible spelled out in the tile of the entrance floor.  Once inside, the distinctive atmosphere heavy with chatter from the lunch crowd is thoroughly contemporary, but the surroundings reveal the building’s past as a drug store.  Although the soda fountain installed in 1882 is long gone, the beautiful back bar remains, blending perfectly with later improvements to create a unique and relaxing environment.

In addition to the other fine structures originally constructed as homes or businesses that contribute to the ambiance of this town on the move, other historic public buildings include the 1829 stone jail at Third and Mifflin Street, the 1883 French Renaissance style courthouse on Penn Street, and St. John’s Episcopal Church, an 1845 Gothic building directly across from the courthouse.

Fortunately for us today, some of those who traveled past Huntingdon by foot, boat, train, or automobile decided to stop.  The town that they started has been shaped and molded over the years by new residents, who in their turn continued pushing Huntingdon forward without forgetting the past. Today most of the opulent homes have other purposes.  The McMurtrie property on Fourth Street houses the public library and the county historical society.  Others house restaurants and specialty shops.  But no matter what purposes the buildings now serve, every one contributes to the unique spirit of a bustling town humming with life.

You can find more information on the borough and county of Huntingdon in History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania, by J. Simpson Africa (1883),  An Architectural Study of the Ancient Borough of Huntingdon (1976) and Two Centuries in Huntingdon(1996), both by Nancy S. Shedd, and a variety of other publications found at the Huntingdon County Historical Society, 106 Fourth Street.  A walking tour brochure encompassing Huntingdon’s Historic District and a listing of downtown shopping and dining options is also available free at the historical society, Raystown Lake Visitor Center and at the courthouse.

Categories: 2006 Visitors Guide, History, Things to Do | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Made to Order Moments- Dining in the RLR

by Luana Lindberg

Good moments, bad moments, embarrassing moments, hilarious moments….moments, moments, moments…We all have our moments!  Now we want to give you a different moment…A made-to-order Raystown Moment!

From the moment you arrive, we are ready to serve you.  Want a quick lunch before you head to the lake?  Burger King and Wendy’s are quick and tasty and you can always grab a sub at Subway.

Maybe your Raystown moment will come after the campers are set up and camping gear is put away.  You could steal a moment to relax at Memories at the Lake.  Enjoy their award winning wings or one of their famous burgers while watching the boats sail into dock at the 7-Points Marina.

If you want to make your own Raystown Moments on the lake last as long as possible, then the Light House Concession might be the choice for you.  Just call you order in from your boat, pick-it up, and enjoy while you soak up the last of the sun’s rays as they set over beautiful Lake Raystown.

Looking for a little nightlife?  Does an ice cold beer sound good after a day in the sun?  You won’t find better choices anywhere than Boxer’s Café in Historic downtown Huntingdon.

Got the whole family? Great!  We have some fabulous family restaurants to make your moment special!  Try Top’s or Miller’s Diner.  Whether its pancakes for breakfast, a burger for lunch, or pork chops for dinner, these two are hard to beat.  Miller’s offers free pie if a train stops at the diner and the engineer comes in to get something to eat.  THAT is train stoppin’ good!  Maybe steaks and salad are more to your liking, try Hoss’s Steak and Sea House.

Need a sports fix?  No problem.  Try Main Street Café or Memories, both local sports bars with great food and drink.

Looking for a quiet candle filled moment? Then Mimi’s is the place.  A more upscale restaurant with great food prepared by local chefs and a wonderful martini bar.

Did you say I need a cup of coffee?  Well then check out the Standing Stone Coffee Co. in uptown Huntingdon.  They offer great coffee and pastry in a cool coffee bar setting.

Yes, everyone has their moments.  Let us make you another one…a Raystown moment…made-to-order.

Categories: Dining | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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