By WHITNEY BURDETTE ∙ firstname.lastname@example.org
Nestled along the Elk River in Sutton is Café Cimino Country Inn, a resort of sorts that's growing in popularity.
Melody Urbanic, who owns the inn and restaurant with her husband, Tim, said running the bustling business is their retirement job.
"We started in an old hardware store in 1999 and that was a restaurant until 2007," Urbanic said. "In 2007, we took over an estate at the end of town in foreclosure. Now we've been changed to a full-scale country inn."
That full-scale country inn includes nine guestrooms scattered throughout the main house, the carriage house and what used to be the servant's quarters. A riverside patio can accommodate up to 50 people for cocktail parties or receptions. Guests also can take advantage of on-site spa services.
"When you get here, I guess it's a mini resort," Urbanic said.
The home that houses the inn is 115 years old, constructed in 1898. The old house showcases some historical charm that guests can enjoy.
"We have wraparound verandas and patios everywhere," Urbanic said. "People love to sit outside. We have informal seating here and there. There are a lot of nooks and crannies to have private time."
Guests also have unfettered access to the Elk River, where they can fish, canoe or kayak. The portion of the Elk River that runs along Café Cimino is the start of the newly established Elk River Water Trail.
But perhaps the biggest draw is the restaurant.
Tim Urbanic is the head chef, and he uses some of the cooking traditions found in southern Italy, his family's home. But though the cooking style is reminiscent of Europe, the food is pure West Virginian.
"One of the things people love about his cuisine is we use locally sourced foods — meats, vegetables, fruits — all these things from West Virginia and the Appalachian region as much as humanly possible," Melody Urbanic said. "He's known as the grandfather of farm-to-table. We've been doing that since '99, bringing the good things from the farm to the table to the guest. That's our calling card."
Urbanic said her husband uses a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in his cooking. That and the fact that the food comes from small, local farms makes it healthier than typical restaurant food. And the customers seem to enjoy it.
"Café Cimino has long been known as a place to go to celebrate special occasions — birthdays, anniversaries and family-type celebrations," Urbanic said. "It's also becoming popular because it's a unique setting for statewide board meetings, corporate retreats and fundraisers. People from all over the state can come here. I'm talking small boards, 10 to 12 people, but we're doing a lot of that. Because of its central location in the center of the state, it's becoming popular for daytime events, business meetings and retreats for boards, organizations or corporate boards."
The inn is open daily, but the restaurant has more limited hours. Café Cimino is open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Included in the inn's daily rate is a three-course gourmet breakfast.
For information, call 304-765-2913 or visitcafeciminocountryinn.com.