Eleanor and The Hütte

Years ago, when I needed a break from my life, I would get in my car and drive. Being just a few steps beyond normal, I never had a destination in mind and sometimes I drove for hours. One of those random roads took me for the first time right to the parking lot of The Hütte Restaurant in Helvetia, West Virginia. I’ve mentioned the restaurant in other posts because it will always be a favorite destination.

It was a Sunday, shortly before noon, when I walked onto the porch of the old farmhouse turned restaurant. I was hungry, and while I stood there reading a notice about the Hütte Berner Platte, I realized that it was describing the Sunday smorgasbord. I felt like I’d found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Drooling over the thought of sauerbraten, parsley potatoes, and peach cobbler, I opened the door and was instantly surrounded by the smells of warm bread, hot applesauce, and sauerkraut.

Before I could step into the room, an older lady approached me and asked, “Do you have a reservation?” My heart sank. I saw all hope of a calorie overload flying out the window and landing on someone else’s hips. This did not make me happy. The woman was a bit on the scary side and I all but stammered. “No, sorry.” Then she asked me another surprising question. “How fast can you eat?” Without waiting for an answer, she continued talking. “I’ll put you at the priest’s table. If you’re lucky, he’ll be long winded today.” She led me through several crowded rooms to a small table in a tiny room by the back door.

The priest’s room!

While I was finishing my scrumptious cobbler, the lady introduced herself as Eleanor. I discovered that, in addition to the restaurant, she ran a bed and breakfast called The Beekeeper Inn. I told her that I’d love to buy my in-laws a gift certificate to stay there but that I didn’t have enough cash to pay for it. The restaurant didn’t accept credit cards.

A few minutes later, Eleanor was back. She handed me a signed gift certificate with a blank where the amount needed to be written in. “Fill in whatever amount you want and mail me a check when you get home. Are you done eating yet?”

I have more to tell about Eleanor. Stay tuned for my next post, when I tell you another story about a lady who thrived while being just a few steps beyond normal.

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