The distance between farm and table often spans miles and a trip to the supermarket. Monica and Duke Gastiger are trying to shorten that gap to just a few footsteps away.
With RE Farm Cafe — part living laboratory, part restaurant — the couple believes the site can be a nexus of sustainable agriculture and business. The Gastigers recently purchased Windswept Farm in Patton Township, the future home of the cafe.
Monica Gastiger said they’re targeting a spring 2018 opening.
“I think RE Farm Cafe will be a community resource,” she said. “Part of what we’re doing is the Living Building Challenge, which looks at the way we source material. So we’re not using anything that’s environmentally unfriendly.”
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She said the building will be net zero energy and net zero water. The open kitchen will be geared toward induction cooking and will look out over in-the-round dining.
The cafe will also feature a private dining room and panoramic views of the farm.
“I think your experience is going to begin far before you walk into the cafe,” Monica Gastiger said. “Your experience is going to begin when you enter the farm.”
The menu will include locally sourced items from area farms. Gastiger said hours are tentative at this point, but they plan to be open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner and Saturdays for brunch.
“Everything produced on the farm will be used in the cafe,” she said. “We’re also trying to support local farms — whatever is available locally is what will be on the menu.”
The Gastigers, who also own Spats Cafe and The All-American Rathskeller, have worked on bringing a farm cafe to the area for years. After a location in Ferguson Township fell through in April, the couple pledged to continue their search.
Their persistence has paid off. Monica Gastiger credited Patton and Ferguson townships in helping make RE Farm Cafe a reality.
“It’s not just Duke and me,” she said. “It is a community project.”
Nittany Valley Sports Centre inches closer to opening
While the land is being graded for the parking lot and eventual building, more steps remain before the Nittany Valley Sports Centre can open its doors.
Patton Township Manager Doug Erickson said one of the property owners reported they’d like to open by the end of 2017. The proposed 81,216-square-foot center would feature turf fields and a gymnastics training area, bringing an anticipated indoor sports facility to the State College area.
The center is planned for the intersection of Fox Hill and Bernel roads. Plans were first approved in 2014. The Board of Supervisors approved a revised version in January.
“People have been looking for an opportunity like this,” Erickson said. “There have been groups who have had to go out of town to find indoor space for things like soccer in the wintertime.”
About a year ago, Mark Torretti, the senior project manager for PennTerra Engineering, said developers were targeting to break ground summer 2017 and an open date of November 2017. In January, Torretti said the revised plans made better use of the available space, the property owned by his client and local developer Michael Lee.
Erickson said a building permit still needs to be acquired. After which, construction on the facility itself can begin.
“I think there a lot of people who are interested in this and seeing something locally,” he said.
Plumbing and heating business acquisition completed
Robert Johnson Plumbing and Heating has been bought by Kathy Koetje-Simin, the company recently announced. The Lewistown HVAC specialist, located at 1118 W. 4th St., serves Mifflin, Centre, Huntingdon and Blair counties.
Koetje-Simin previously worked as financial analyst for a general contractor in Seattle. She brings experience in financial and strategic planning from other mechanical contractors. She added the company is looking to open a State College office in the future.
“I wanted to take my passion for the construction industry and desire to provide a quality workplace for employees as well as the highest quality service to our customers to a higher level,” she said in an email.
According to the company’s website, Robert Johnson Plumbing and Heating has provided HVAC services for more than 60 years.