Matt and Colleen Swartz spent nearly a week at the annual Elkins Forest Festival serving crepes to the masses.
The experience introduced the native Pennsylvanians to West Virginia, and they became acquainted with the people they served during the fest.
“We were doing the crepes,” Colleen said. “All summer long, we were traveling to different festivals and doing the crepes, not as a food truck concept, but we did outdoor tented space.”
Following this trip, the two passed through Rivesville, which they subsequently found to be an enjoyable community. After some preparation, they decided to move to the area, and get into the restaurant business to serve their crepes and other cooked creations as the Full Circle Kitchen.
“We just saw a little restaurant in this cute little town; West Virginia has nice people, to be honest,” Matt said. “It seemed like the town needed a restaurant. It was a change of pace, it’s like ‘Wow, everyone is really friendly, hometown.'”
While the Swartz family wanted to start a new business venture for themselves, they also came with the idea of revitalization, as they wanted to help put a stop to the idea of Rivesville and Marion County having a lack of places to go.
” A lot of the people here appreciate that we’re willing to put in so much time in an area where a lot of people don’t really care to,” Colleen said. “I think they feel like ‘Good, someone actually thinks of us.'”
So far, their efforts have been noticed, recognized and utilized by the people of the town, as they have already garnered several regulars since the opening of the Full Circle Kitchen on Oct. 13. Being open on Thanksgiving, Matt and Colleen found it to be a popular spot for people to go on the holiday, so they already feel they have made an impact on the area and its people.
After getting this type of reception, they have decided to be open to provide the same service on Christmas as well.
“We’re not from the area so it’s just our immediate family here,” Colleen said. “Originally, we weren’t going to be open for Christmas, and we had such a turnout and people appreciated the fact that we were here. There is a lot of people in the area that don’t have anywhere to go or things to do, so it gets them out of the house.
“They come here and they kind of feel like they’re at home, and they get some good food at a reasonable price,” she said. “It made us feel good to help people out.”
In their efforts to impact the area, the kitchen has served employees of the Town of Rivesville, catering its holiday party already. Having this kind of restaurant is an advantage to Rivesville, as it has brought individuals to the town to eat, and perhaps stay a little longer.
“Everybody is really happy, we didn’t think anybody would make a go at it, and they shocked us,” Yvonne Liberto, mayor of Rivesville, said. “It gives people places to go close to home.”
With the addition of the Full Circle Kitchen to the town, Liberto believes the future to be bright for the town, as the Swartz’s have already exceeded her expectations.
“If people come from out of state, you have someplace to take them,” she said. “I’m excited for the people and I’m excited for the town. We’re really glad.”
Because its menu contains options for breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, the Full Circle Kitchen has the ability to cater to many tastes. From omelets to spaghetti to pizza and more, the kitchen has the versatility of a diner, but its specialty lies in the dish that started it all: crepes.
“We came here with the expectation that no one would even understand what a crepe was,” Colleen said. “So I said ‘Maybe they’ll eat them, maybe they won’t.’ Well, it has caught on a lot more than we thought. The dessert ones are extremely popular.”
Matt also said that regulars have picked up on a pattern of eating a meal at the Full Circle Kitchen, and later heading off to another part of the town, such as the restaurant/brewery Short Story. Adding to Rivesville and being a destination within it was one of the missions the restaurant was founded on, after all.
“We had people Sunday night here from Clarksburg,” he explained. “Short Story is here, now there is another cool restaurant. Growing up and watching things in Philadelphia get revitalized. If you get a couple of good restaurants in, it brings people.”
Now living in Fairmont, Matt, Colleen and their children are part of West Virginia, and they just hope to be a positive influence on the town, the county; the state.
“It’s not a bar, and it’s not a restaurant,” Matt said. “We saw this little restaurant, we were down here, people were friendly, we said ‘Let’s go.'”
The Full Circle Kitchen is located at 153 Main Street in Rivesville and offers to deliver business lunches in addition to its dining hall. Its regular hours are from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, but will be open regular hours on Christmas Eve, as well as on New Year’s Eve, with a “Coal Miners’ buffet” from 3-7 p.m. for $12, and its hours on Christmas will be 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for a brunch buffet for $10. On New Year’s Day, the restaurant will open later.
Source: The Associated Press