By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV
In 2020, Chris & Jorge Rodriguez-Stanley were living in Los Angeles, California, working good jobs they enjoyed. The pandemic allowed them to work remotely for a few months, so they followed a dream and bought a building in Ronceverte (Chris’ hometown). They planned to be here in West Virginia for a few months, get their business running, and move back to LA.
“But what happened,” Chris remembers, “is we didn’t want to leave.”
They believed in Ronceverte’s potential and wanted to be part of its renewal. They worked to open the region’s first dog park. They reached out to friends and investors about joining them in Ronceverte. Then came a turning point.
Chris & Jorge had to return to LA to handle some business in June 2021. At the same time, an opportunity to take over the lease on The Edgarton Café became available. They decided to take a leap of faith and sign the lease. They did so on the same day they left for LA.
The next month, July 2021, Jorge lost his job in LA. And it was a blessing in disguise. While it delayed their return to Ronceverte and changed their plans, they knew what they needed to do. They needed to be back in Ronceverte.
Jorge took a job as Communications Associate for The WV Community Development Hub, they began working on the café, and then another opportunity came knocking on their door.
One day they were working in the café, when Kathy King (who used to run both the café and the inn) came inside. “Would yall like to buy the inn, as well?” they remember her asking. She was moving to Pennsylvania and wanted to see them succeed. They said yes.
“It all just came together,” Chris says.
Ever since, Chris and Jorge have been working to open the inn and café. The inn is now known as the Hollerwood House, and it opened earlier this spring for guests and special events. The café is now known as the RNCVRT and will be open June 3 for a special preview event.
“We chose that name because we are inspired by the potential of Ronceverte,” Jorge explains. “It’s more than a business. We want it to be part of the community and something they can be proud of in town.”
To begin, the café will serve coffee, pastries, and baked goods both for customers and guests at the Hollerwood House. It will also be available as a community meeting space for civic groups. Eventually, it will serve hot breakfast and lunch as well. Their goal is to be open 7 days a week from 6am-7pm.
“But it will be a slow burn,” Chris says, “and we thank the community for their patience.”
They plan to sell local art, use locally sourced ingredients, sell coffee ground here in-state, offer ice cream from Sweet Things Ice Cream Shop in Virginia, and hire workers paying a living wage.
‘Kathy & Belinda 2.0’
“Basically, we’re Kathy & Belinda 2.0,” Chris says with a laugh.
Regular customers of The Edgarton Café know this refers to Kathy & Belinda, sisters who ran the businesses together. Kathy ran the inn, and Belinda ran the café. Similarly, Chris will run the inn and Jorge will run the café.
Soft opening on June 3
Plan to join Chris & Jorge for a special preview event on June 3 from 3:30-5:30pm at The Rncvrt located on Edgar Avenue across from the train station. They will serve a limited menu, allowing folks to see the space, enjoy each other’s company, and hear about their plans for the future.
“We’re so grateful for the community’s support,” Chris says.
“We’ve put a lot of work into this creating a brand across multiple businesses that Ronceverte can be proud of,” echoes Jorge.
Stay tuned to The Real WV for further updates.