Most restaurants only have a parking lot outside, but at least one will also have the farm within arm’s reach.
Duke and Monica Gastiger plan for that to be the case when they open RE Farm Cafe on JL Farm in Ferguson Township.
State College-based PennTerra Engineering recently submitted a land development proposal for the Gastigers’ next venture — they also own The All-American Rathskeller and Spats Cafe — to the township. The plan includes a cidery/winery on the farm.
The Gastigers declined comment. JL Farm owner John LeClair, who bought a liquor license for the cidery/winery, did not respond to a request for comment.
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Ferguson Township engineers reviewed the initial land development plans, according to township Planning and Zoning Director Ray Stolinas. He said details of the development need to be worked on and that the Gastigers were working on revisions. The township approved a zoning ordinance for the farm cafe, which has been in the works for several years, in June 2015.
RE Farm Cafe, according to its website, will double down on its dining experience by also being an educational opportunity, “a living, working lab for the public, university students, farmers, school-aged children and learners of all ages.”
The restaurant was conceptualized with local sourcing and sustainability in mind. It will be a 58-seat eatery surrounded by 8,000 fruit trees, the cidery/winery, seven greenhouses, 20 acres of field crops and planned herds of animals.
The building, according to the website, will use reclaimed barn timber for framing and unpainted rough-cut hemlock for its exterior. The Gastigers planned the restaurant down to its visual aspects. When guests drive toward it — people will see a farm silo that will be reused as an entrance and the adjacent greenhouse where herbs are grown.
The Gastigers also plan to have the cooks work in the greenhouses and field “for a more complete understanding of the farm-to-plate relationship.” The cooks’ kitchen will not only serve as a place to prepare, but also to perform for and educate guests.