Lancaster cafe combines food and crafts

November 09, 2004|JOHN T. DAVIS

LANCASTER - Lee Elliott had always dreamed of opening a craft shop, but she always liked to cook, too.

The result: The Rusty Nail Cafe on Lexington Street in Lancaster.

Since the business opened Oct. 1, Elliott has found that crafts and the restaurant work well together.

"A lot of times people come in for lunch, and they may look around for a Christmas item or a birthday gift ...," Elliott said. "I thought one might help complement the other. If you come in for a gift, you might decide you want to eat. If you come in to eat, you might decide you need a gift."

Elliott is helped in the business by her mother, Marsha Miller, who was communications supervisor at Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville and had worked at the hospital for 26 years.

Elliott had wanted to open a gift shop for a long time and when a building became available in town, Miller said she decided it was time for her "to do something different... I'm still serving the public."


"This is something I always wanted to do," Elliott said. "I worked at the health department before I did this, so I understood all of the health department regulations.

"In the beginning, I was just going to do a crafts shop, but several people said you have to do food, too. I always liked cooking ..."

Miller said her daughter has been cooking since she was 10 years old.

Already talking about chicken salad and citrus tea

The mother-daughter team prepares a lunch daily that features homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. Though they've only been open about a month, they said customers already are talking about their chicken salad and their Rusty Nail Tea, a sweet, citrus tea that they serve both hot and cold.

The cafe has specials every day. "We try to keep things changing and have something different all of the time," Elliott said.

While Elliott specializes in homemade pies, she calls her mother "the muffin woman" for the wide variety of mini-muffins she makes to go with the restaurant's soups and salads.

"This is not a fast-paced, fast-food place," Elliott said. "We want you to come in and take your time and enjoy yourself. I'd much rather go somewhere and wait a little longer and get something that's homemade."

"It wouldn't be any fun just to open a can," Miller said. "We could work a lot less hours, but that's just not what it's (the caf) about."

The cafe seats 35 people in four different rooms and has a children's menu as well as some kid-sized tables. Another room is devoted completely to crafts and other gifts, but all of the dining areas are decorated with items that are for sale. Currently, the cafe serves lunch only, but Elliott and Miller will open up at other times for people who want to hold special events, such as showers or birthday parties, there.

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