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Bits of Business: New owner dedicated to Village Eatinghouse’s mission

The Village Eatinghouse Marketplace & Cafe in Pleasant Gap is under new ownership.
The Village Eatinghouse Marketplace & Cafe in Pleasant Gap is under new ownership. CDT photo

Melanie Philips thought she wanted the Village Eatinghouse to remain the same if she and her husband, Clay, sold it — right down to the decorative salt and pepper shakers on each dining table.

The Philipses realized, however, that what they really wanted was someone who would continue their commitment to food, art and community in a new eatery.

The couple completed the sale of the Eatinghouse’s equipment and phone list this week to Audra Knisely, of Walker Township, who through meetings over the past month gave the Philipses confidence she will be as dedicated to food, art and the community as they were.

Knisely, whose parents own Knisely Shredding and Michelle’s Dog House, wants to call her restaurant Corner Cafe and Grill, but the state needs to approve it first. Her family also owns Ingram Fuels.

“I’ve wanted to open my own business for what seems like forever, probably since high school,” Knisely said. “A restaurant has always been at the top my my list, and this worked for me.”

The restaurant will close May 23 with a party to honor the Philips’ time there. Knisely plans to open her restaurant in late June.

She was drawn to Village Eatinghouse as a customer before she was a buyer.

“Melanie and Clay are great people, and I love what they created, so when I noticed it was up for sale I decided to come in and speak with them, and it worked out great,” she said. “I’m, of course, nervous. All business is a risk, but I feel like it’s right for me.”

“We’re both taking a chance, though, and doing what we really want to do,” Melanie said.

The Philipses will consult with Knisely through August on food prep, recipe development, food sourcing and running the day-to-day business.

Their specialty-food product line will continue to go by the name Village Eatinghouse and be sold at Knisely’s restaurant.

“People love coming in for that, so why would I ever want to get rid of it?” Knisely said.

The Philipses built a commercial kitchen in their home to produce seven original dressings, sauces and spice blends and plan to create more.

“We’ve got some great ideas and projects people will be interested in, but we’ve always needed more time to do it,” Melanie said.

Closing time

Kneading Body Spa, in Philipsburg, closed its doors May 1.

Owner Davina Haponski, who announced the closing in early April, did not return requests for comment.

“I appreciate your continued support over the last five years,” she said in an April 2 Facebook post. “It has been an amazing journey for me to have opened my own spa.”

Haubert Homes’ run will come to an end after about 60 years in business.

Owner Don Haubert Sr. could not be reached for comment.

According to a statement by Fogarty Homes, based in Lewisburg, Haubert Homes’ operations began to wind down in April and that all plans formerly offered could be built through Fogarty Homes.

Fogarty Homes co-owner Brad Haubert did not respond to requests for comment.

Bellefonte Twist also closed its doors.

The ice cream shop, which used to be a Dairy Queen, changed its stripes in 2013 to become a small business. It is not clear who owned the business when it closed.

Winning numbers

Every small business gets a little help from someone.

The Penn State Small Business Development Center, which recently released its statistics for 2014, is there to offer a hand.

In 2014, according to an SBDC press release, the center assisted about 500 clients in Centre and Mifflin counties. The services and seminars offered by the SBDC also helped to start 23 businesses, create about 130 jobs and secure more than $3.3 million in financing opportunities.

The SBDC assists entrepreneurs in starting, improving and expanding their business by providing free, confidential consulting services.

Businesses that have benefited from the SBDC include Pick ‘em Up Productions and Rugrats Resale, Sweet Heat Gourmet and Bonfatto’s.

Lydia Myers, owner of Pick’em Productions and Rugrats Resale, got help from SBDC senior consultant Linda Feltman to start her first venture and to purchase Rugrats Resale.

“I couldn’t figure out what forms I should fill out or who I needed to talk to,” Myers said. “I finally learned about the Penn State Small Business Development Center, set up a meeting and literally by the end of the day I had my employee ID number. They were able to help us navigate through all the paperwork and made sure all the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed.”

In case you missed it

Scott Gardner will launch reMarkables, a business that uses dye-sublimation. Sherrie Borden launched a new sports service for Borden Solutions. Collen and Jim Small were named the 2015 Pittsburgh District Small Business Person of the Year by the United States Small Business Administration. And Geisinger-Scenery Park held a free skin cancer screening.