Food & Drink

Philipsburg restaurateur serves up family-friendly atmosphere, menu

After previously owning and selling The Gaslight Cafe in Philipsburg, Jennifer Horton missed the restaurateur life, so she started out on a new venture.

“Myself and my mother love working and cooking together ... so here we are again with a new name, Poppy & Co.,” she said.

Horton owns the 124 N. 2nd St. eatery and manages it along with assistance from her mother and her “wonderful staff.”

The new name derives from Horton’s fond family memories.

“My grandmother had a garden of peonies and poppies. They were her favorite flowers, so it stuck. Plus,” she said, “I call my dad Poppy.”

This family background lends itself to the Poppy & Co. Cafe & Catering environment and service, treating guests to a family-friendly, hospitable dining experience. Still, Horton said that some people are surprised at what they find behind the front door of the Philipsburg restaurant.

The staff of Poppy & Co. on 2nd Street in Philipsburg includes head waitress Linda Ziembo Bressler, owner Jennifer Horton, manager Brenda “Mommy” Horton and cook Jami Hanes. Abby Drey

“It’s so darling,” Horton said. “It’s cute, quaint and not what you would expect when you walk in the door. (It’s) an adorable cafe with poppy paintings adorning the walls, linens on the tables and a sweet atmosphere of friendship, where the food is (also) delicious.”

The cafe’s budget-friendly menu covers a range of light options, including salads, sandwiches, wraps and breakfast dishes. Horton said the best-seller on the menu is the salads, and for a very special reason.

“The salads are the biggest seller due to my mom’s liquid gold sweet and sour dressing,” she said.

In fact, this “liquid gold” dressing, dubbed Mommy’s Sweet & Sour Vinaigrette — a secret blend of vinegar, sugar, oil, spices and seasonings — is so popular that you can pick it up in retail-ready jars to take home.

Jars of Mommy’s Sweet & Sour Vinaigrette are for sale at Poppy & Co. in Philipsburg. Abby Drey

Other popular menu items that Horton says are a close second are the hot roast beef sandwich — the restaurant’s signature dish that comes with a choice of potato and smothered in a savory gravy — and the hand-breaded haddock, served as a sandwich with a side of fries and a pickle.

Poppy & Co. Cafe also offers specials and soups, which Horton recommends new and frequent guests alike try, as they change daily.

“Not to mention, they’re homemade,” she said, a standard that applies to the house-made bread as well.

Recent specials have included entrees like stuffed chicken breast with a side of veggies; spaghetti pie with salad; ham and bean soup; buffalo chicken wraps with potato salad; and a slew of mouthwatering sweets that range from Elvis Presley pie (traditionally created using some of The King’s favorite ingredients, peanut butter and bananas) to vanilla creme cake.

While all the homemade food is certainly a perk, Horton says the best part of owning and working at the restaurant is the people.

“The best thing about the restaurant is the customers and friendships we have built along the way,” she said.

Currently, Horton is looking to expand her team by adding two more cooks to her roster. She also hopes to open for evening and night hours in the future. Poppy & Co. Cafe & Catering is open 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, closed Saturday-Monday.

Holly Riddle is a freelance food, travel and lifestyle writer. She can be reached at