"Breathing New Life" 2007
West Virginia Gazette, Tara Tuckwiller
Cafe Cimino has been quietly dishing out authentic Italian suppers in this rural West Virginia town of 1,000 for eight years. Last week, owners Tim and Melody Urbanic officially unveiled Ciminos new country inn and full bar if unveiled is the right word. Actually, Melody Urbanic said, they didnt even advertise. But the historic houses 10 guest rooms and suites are filling up anyway, with customers who have traditionally traveled from far and wide for Ciminos food home-cooked (and often home-grown) by Tim Urbanic and his son Eli. We think the same thing that has made Cafe Cimino successful will make the inn successful, Tim Urbanic said. He smiled. We cant help but be unpretentious. We dont know how to be any other way. Early Tuesday evening, the family looked relaxed: Eli calmly handled the kitchen as Tim and Melody greeted dinner guests by name, then strolled downstairs to the heavy- beamed bar to hug and chat with some longtime customers and now inn guests who were having wine and cocktails on the riverside patio. A couple of weeks ago, Tim Urbanic said, it was a different scene. When we popped the champagne and said goodbye to the old Cafe Cimino, heres what we didnt have in this building [the new location]: natural gas, hot and cold running water, a health permit, a liquor license, and vents for heating and cooling. Seventy-two hours later, everything was ready for opening because the entire staff pulled one long all-nighter. All 10 of our full-time staff worked with us like family, Melody Urbanic said. The Urbanics moved out of one historic building the 107-year-old Lee Hardware Store and into another just a few blocks away: a mansion built a hundred years ago by a local merchant during the areas railroad heyday. The opulent woodwork, stained glass, period tile and window-lined towers are intact. The mansions downstairs living rooms are now dining rooms, each with about four tables and its own personality. One dining rooms picture window offers a view of a neighbors immaculately tended garden; anothers massive carved mantel displays Mayor Jim Walkers mothers collection of Roseville pottery. He told us he wanted it to be where people could see it and appreciate it, Melody Urbanic said. Upstairs, and in the old carriage house, the Urbanics matched furniture to the houses Victorian feel: massive beds, heavy white sinks and claw-foot tubs. Seven of the inns 10 rooms and suites have balconies with views of the Elk River. I tell people to bring their river shoes, if theyre outdoorsy people, Melody Urbanic said. One girl said shes going to bring her kayak. As for food, the dinner menu is still the same: seasonal, local ingredients prepared the way Tim Urbanics immigrant grandparents from Calabria taught him. Neighbors Dot and Mike Gioulis contribute the fresh flowers on the tables. Were growing the wine selection, Tim Urbanic said, including a selection of Calabrese wines some made from the regions ancient grape, gaglioppo. In the bar, Urbanic plans to rotate 40 small plates such as antipasti, smoked arctic char and mussels Italiano on the menu 10 at a time. And then theres breakfast. For recent overnight guests, Tim made an Italian frittata, scones, Irish soda bread, a fruit plate with berries and melon and mint, soppressata crisps the Italian version of bacon juice and coffee. The old Cafe Cimino will be available for banquets and soon will become a bakery, coffee shop and art gallery, Tim Urbanic said. Ciminos new home likewise features West Virginia artists work throughout. It was sort of like buying an old piece of furniture, Tim Urbanic said of the mansion. We just started to shine it ... You can see every day its just breathing new life, starting to tell all the stories you want it to tell.