Oneida's newest restaurant owner hopes to honor the heritage of the Oneida and Western Railroad while serving up gourmet southern food.
Randy Schork, a classically trained chef who's cooked in a multitude of setting, had been looking for the perfect place to open a restaurant, and it turns out Scott County was that place.
"It's always been something I wanted to do, I just needed the right place," Schork explained last week as he and his business partner, Brittany Boling, worked on last minute details before the O&W Café opened on Tuesday. "It's amazing here. Here I felt comfortable enough to open a restaurant and put roots here."
Schork, the café's owner and chef, is a native of New Jersey, but he's lived and worked in various places around the country cooking everything from barbecue to fine dining and managing all areas of restaurant life. Schork and Boling met at a resort in Colorado where they both worked, and eventually the pair returned to Campbell County where Boling grew up. Boling began teaching yoga at the Fightanium in May 2015, and Schork began catering private parties and several local events including the First National Bank Picnic and the Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame Dinner.
"A lot of people have probably eaten Randy's food and don't know he's opening a restaurant," Boling said.
The menu features southern favorites such as biscuits and gravy, cinnamon roll pancakes, or a classic breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage or bologna, toast or biscuit and a potato cake. There are also country breakfast sandwhich favorites with a gourmet twist. For example, Schork has created a fried green tomato biscuit with bacon, pimento cheese and chow chow. The pulled pork biscuit has pulled pork on a biscuit with bacon, pimento cheese, syrup, and an egg.
The lunchtime menu features a myriad of sandwich options as well as a salad bar, baked potato bar, fresh soup, and special sides.
Diners may stick around and enjoy their food in the cozy loft or at the bar, or can have their order packaged to be carried out.
The café's name has a two-fold purpose. First, Schork and Boling are very interested in the role short line railroads played in rural America. The Oneida and Western Railroad was a short line running between Jamestown and Oneida in the 1920s. Second, the O&W Bridge area was the first place the two visited when they first went to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.
"This is one of the most beautiful places we've ever been," Boling explained.
In time, the pair would love to showcase memorabilia and stories from local residents about the O&W Railroad.
Beyond providing a great meal, Schork and Boling are also striving to be a sustainable, environmentally friendly establishment while utilizing local produce and other goods.
"We just want to give people, especially local farmers and local artisans an outlet," she said.
As for sourcing the café's dishes and décor, the pair visited the Habitat for Humanity Restore for coffee mugs and picked up several items from Pappy's Peddlers' Mall. The wood for the counter came from Scott County. The wood for the bar is from Tallent Lumber in Jamestown. The tables in the upstairs loft are made of fencing that was torn down to make way for parking.
The establishment also provided jobs to five people. Schork and Boling hired two local moms, a student from each high school, and a college student to work weekend shifts.
O&W Café is located at 125 W. Third Ave. in Oneida behind Carson's Tire in the building that used to house The Framing Gallery. They are open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Parking is in the gravel lot next door to their location or at Carson's Tire.