The owner/operator of the Grand Midway, Blair Murphy, had business that kept him from being on hand for much of this Thursday’s coffeehouse. Accordingly, he asked yours truly to pinch-hit for him. I agreed, of course–I mean, why not? Being paid a bit to attend my favorite place, where I’d be spending the evening regardless!
Beforehand, I shared a lovely supper with Syn just down the street at Bella’s. . . .
Syn was duly impressed by her first visit to their still-new location’s one-of-a-kind decor (it’s the former Coal Heritage Museum and retains many of the local history exhibits blended with a generally simple but elegant decor.
The food is as excellent as ever, plus Syn got to catch up with Carmen (co-owner of the place with her husband Esteban). Then it was back to the Midway to get the coffee brewing, turn on the lights and otherwise get ready for the 6 o’clock opening.
First in the door (actually a couple minutes early) was another very dedicated regular, Amber. She often comes in costume and tonight she sported a long wig (black with a few red streaks) and a mostly black, homemade witch costume.
The first DVD movie of the evening was an early George Lucas classic:
Ron Howard (back when he was still called Ronny), Richard Dreyfus and others as teenagers cruising the streets in their hot rods back in 1962–with a fine period soundtrack augmented by celebrity radio DJ Wolfman Jack, playing a variation of himself.
The first wave of our role-playing game contingent soon arrived, led by Ron S. and accompanied by his grandmother, in town for a brief visit. They occupied the back-most booth and chowed down to assorted tasty offering from the local Sheetz convenience store’s kitchen. Ron was so pleased with the jallapino poppers, he shared one with me and I must agree–they had a very nice ‘kick’ to them.
Ron and Sami’s little boy, Frankie, saw this and offered to share some of his fries. I thanked him for his generosity but declined, explaining I’d already eaten.
I should explain that, while Blair sells a few snack items (chocolate bars, pre-packaged cheese crackers, etc) to go with no-limit mugs of coffee, various teas and hot chocolate, he doesn’t offer full meals. He therefore has no objection to outside food, within reason.
And one of the nicer aspects to Windber itself is that, for a smallish town, we have most everything one might need within easy walking distance. Besides the above mentioned Bella’s and Sheetz, Mimo’s Restaurant, the Windber Hotel (not to be confused with the Grand Midway) and Carolyn’s Restaurant are all within the same 2 block downtown area. A mere 3 blocks up Graham Avenue is a Chinese place, the Windber Wok. Elsewhere in town are a couple fast food franchise places, upscale Italian dining at Rizzo’s and numerous taverns, clubs and bars (most serving food), a supermarket, a Dollar General and Leone’s Italian Sub Shop. The Rambler ice cream shop is nearby. And just across Graham from the Midway, a bakery shop is in the process of moving into a former drugstore.
In addition to the usual regulars, a young independent filmmaker whom Blair had inspired by visiting Johnstown High some years ago dropped by with his buddy. As we awaited Blair’s return, we talked about Blair’s 2 movies, especially the vampire film he made in the years before moving to Windber:
I eventually took these young men for a guided tour of the entire building, while Syn and Amber ‘held the fort’ at the coffee bar. It might’ve been better if I knew how to turn on all the upstairs lights (darkness having fallen by then), but it seemed to add an extra spooky character to the tour and they didn’t seem to mind. Thank you, Tanner, for showing me how to turn on the hall lights on the 2nd floor!
Meanwhile, enough of Ron’s gaming crew had arrived and they retired to the dining room and its great big wooden table and the high-backed. medieval-looking chairs (handmade by Blair and a couple friends) for another evening of thrilling pen-and-paper/role-playing adventure.
The first movie ending, there was a brief interlude with a lesser humorous horror entry:
That one proved less than engrossing, so Syn, Amber and I decided to finish the evening with something packing more ‘bite’, hence:
Blair eventually returned and spent a good deal of time talking with his fellow low-budget filmmaker. New film projects may very well result.
Syn and Paul the EMT (another longtime regular) walked around the outside of the building and nearby structures, discussing the possibilities of further renewing the area, promoting tourism and related topics. I joined that discussion partway through.
Somewhere in there, plenty of coffee, various teas and/or cocoa was consumed (some by me) amid a congenial and pleasantly successful evening. When the last guest departed, Blair kindly drove me home.