The Arbor House Cafe And Tea Room Owners Get A Second Chance
Newly married Jennifer and Chip Phillips had several things going against them when they opened The Arbor House in 2001. The opening of their new business, named because they were wed on Arbor Day in 1998, was on the heels of 9/11, a time when many businesses were failing. Their menu consisted of vegetarian food and coffee specialties before either were popular.
“It had been a pizza place and it required a lot of renovation,” Jennifer said. “It was a slow start and the business wasn’t supporting itself, so my husband joined the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan.”
Jennifer ran the business by herself while raising their 3-year-old daughter, Devyn. Due to the stress of the failing business, she and Chip separated.
“I started having issues with alcoholism and we ended up filing for bankruptcy,” she openly shares. “I was bankrupt not only monetarily, but physically and spiritually.”
After realizing her lifestyle needed to change, she started to pray and about a month later contacted her husband who was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He agreed to try to “work things out” in their marriage. This was when Jennifer packed up Devyn and a few of their belongings and headed to North Carolina. A few months later, they transferred to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where they were introduced to the Navigator Ministry.
“That is when God really got ahold of our hearts and I realized what had been missing,” Jennifer said.
The family stayed at Fort Campbell for seven years, where their son was born. Chip left the Army after nine deployments in 10 years and the family moved back home. Within two years they heard the location of their former business was going to be put on the market.
“People kept telling us it was for sale and because Chip loves to cook, he said he would love to do that again,” Jennifer said. “Devyn remembered when we owned the business and always wanted to own a coffee shop. She used to love having chai with the mayor. We thought ‘why not?’ We prayed and when we started taking action, everything fell into place.”
In October 2016, to the delight of many of their old customers, The Arbor Coffee House reopened, but this time with the addition of many varieties of tea, some non-vegetarian options and a new name, The Arbor House Cafe and Tea Room.
“So many people have said ‘it’s gone full circle,'” she said. “In the first chapter of Jeremiah God asks Jeremiah ‘what do you see?’ Jeremiah responds ‘I see an almond branch’ and God tells him he has seen correctly. ‘For I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.'”
Jennifer loves this story about the almond branch, because the Hebrew word for almond comes from a root word signifying to be watching. When the couple went to their new business for the first time they discovered the previous owner had left a large picture of an almond tree in the office.
“It was God saying ‘I’m giving you this opportunity again’ and He is watching to see if we will fulfill His purpose for us being back here. I’d like to think of this as a ministry opportunity, because that is my heart. It will be exciting to see how that will all pan out.”
“They have an amazing croissant with honey butter,” said Heather Klark of Russell, Pennsylvania. “The fruit smoothies are delicious. It’s the soy milk and honey. Their iced chai is perfect. My mom has to stop in when she comes up from Texas.”
“I like all of their offerings, the coffee and the breakfast burritos,” said Pam McGarry of Warren, who frequents the cafe on her lunch breaks from Kinzua Counseling and Psychological Services and was having a Spicy Black Bean Wrap. “It’s warm and comfortable and peaceful here. They have lots of vegetarian options and that’s why I come.”
Julie Blick of Youngsville, Pennsylvania, another frequent customer, stopped by while she was running errands for her job at The Point.
“I stop almost every day. I get a lot of my lattes here. If I get lunch, I get the Spicy Black Bean Wrap. Of course, everything they make is very good. Jen has such a nice atmosphere and she is so sweet and welcoming,” she said.
A wooden box labeled “Cards for Correspondence” filled with note cards and envelopes, sits near the bakery case. The customer may choose to write a note to a friend or family member while sipping a beverage or munching on a wrap or salad or while enjoying a cup or bread bowl of soup.
Jennifer’s brother, Aaron Spencer, is the cook who has had input in the breakfast burrito, the Naanwich and some of the muffin varieties.
“It’s a nice job. People liked the light menu over the summer,” Spencer said.
“Chip trained him for a week and then he jumped in and has done very well,” Jennifer said.
Devyn is the coffee connoisseur and all of the specialty lattes are created by her. She, also, chooses the drink of the day, which could be Maple Brown Sugar Latte, Reese’s Mocha Latte, Lavender Mocha Latte, Caramel Toffee Latte and more. Her mother has shifted to tea. The business offers high tea by reservation only on weekdays at 2 p.m. and Saturdays at noon.
“It has been so much fun. I feel like there is something extra special about meeting together with a kindred spirit over a pot of tea,” Jennifer said.
Recently an Anne of Green Gables Tea was offered which many attended. Both mother and daughter are excited to be readying a Downton Abbey Christmas-themed tea in November.
“A lot goes into this, but when you see the customers’ eyes light up when you bring out their pot of tea and a three-tier platter of delectables … we’ve had women come to tears, because it’s been such a truly special time and it makes it all worth it.”
They have an upright grand piano that the owner says the doors are always open for people to come in to play. Occasionally small bands, solos, duos and trios perform live music during lunch.
“We have stayed open in the evenings when bands have wanted to play,” Jennifer said.
Devyn will be taking over the business next spring, but her mother will still be involved and helping with the teas and in any other way needed.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted and I’m excited to take it over. I love the work and my favorite thing about being downtown is the relationships with the customers and learning what they like. I would like to add more live music performances,” said Devyn, who is also currently working part-time at Peterson’s Candies in Busti. She will be married to Collin Eyler in September 2018.
Not only does the business owner share her heart, but her delicious recipes are shared, also. The Pineapple-Walnut Bread was served at Tea at Green Gables, as well as Anne’s friend, Diana’s favorite beverage, Raspberry Cordial. The Candied Pecans are great for the holidays and make your house smell amazing.
“We serve English Scones with clotted cream and jam at our high tea, but Lemon Curd goes nicely, too. In Devonshire they put the cream on first with the jam on top, but in Cornwall they do the reverse. It’s either the Devon way or the Cornish way,” Jennifer explained.
Chip is a federal technician with the National Guard. They have a 12-year-old son named Ethan, who is in the sixth grade, are members of Wiltsie Community Church and recently went on staff with the Navigators in the Navigator Church Ministry where they are called to do marriage ministry.
“In all of this I can honestly say no situation is ever too hopeless or too gone. Christ restored my health, my marriage and our business. He can redeem anything,” Jennifer said. “It hasn’t been an easy road, but it’s never been void of hope because of Him.”
The Arbor Coffee House Cafe & Tea Room is located at 340 Pennsylvania Ave. West in Warren, Pennsylvania. Their hours are Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Phone (814) 730-1797 for take-out and high tea reservations.
Everybody has a story. Are you willing to tell yours? If so, pull out your favorite tried and true recipes, decide which you’d like to prepare for the picture and shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll do the rest.
8 oz flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 T powdered sugar
1/2 stick of butter (cut into small cubes)
1/2 c milk
Mix dry ingredients and then add butter and work into tiny crumbles. Whisk together the milk and egg and add half to dough mixture. Mix in to form the dough, then roll it out and cut into circles. Brush tops with the remaining egg and milk mixture. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes.
Pineapple Nut Bread
20 oz crushed pineapple
11/2 c flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c sugar
1 c Greek yogurt
1 c walnuts
Pour pineapple into fine mesh sieve over a bowl and drain. Generously butter and flour 9” x 5″ loaf pan. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt then set aside. In mixing bowl, with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating each completely. Alternately add flour mix and yogurt beginning and ending with flour. Mix in final bit of flour until just combined. Fold in pineapple and nuts. Pour into pan and smooth out. Bake at 350 for 60-70 min. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing.
3/4 c sugar
6 T unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
Zest lemons, cut in half and juice. Should have about 1/4 cup juice. Place juice and zest in a mixing bowl, then whisk in the sugar and eggs, and beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Whisk in melted butter until incorporated. Pour mixture into medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until it gradually thickens and comes to a boil, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, continue to whisk until it cools, about 4-5 minutes. Strain through a sieve.
24 oz frozen raspberries
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c lemon juice
Boil raspberries and sugar until sugar is fully dissolved. Pour through strainer into a pitcher. Add lemon juice and chill.
Baked Apple Roses
1/2 pkg puff pastry (thawed)
2 red apples
2 T lemon juice
1 T flour to sprinkle on work surface
1 egg, lightly beaten
Prepare a bowl half filled with water and lemon juice. Cut the apples in half and remove the core. Slice apples into paper thin slices, leaving the peel on. Immediately, place the sliced apples in the bowl of water and microwave the apples for about 3 min, to make them soft and flexible. Unwrap the puff pastry over a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, stretch dough into a rectangular shape and cut into long strips about 2-inch wide. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain the apples. Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl. Brush the pastry dough with the egg and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Arrange the apple slices on the dough, overlapping one another. Make sure the skin side (top) of the slices stick a little out of the top. Fold the bottom half of the pastry dough up over the apples. Starting from one end, carefully roll the dough, keeping the apple slices in place. Seal the edge at the end, pressing with your finger, and place in a regular greased muffin cup. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. (If the tops start to get too brown, loosely cover with aluminum foil.)
11/2 c old fashioned oats
1 c high fiber cereal
1 c walnuts, chopped
1 c banana chips, chopped
1/2 c coconut
1/2 c dried pineapple
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T honey
2 T olive oil
2 T corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites (mix in last)
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. Mix wet ingredients and brown sugar and microwave for 1 minute. Pour over dry ingredients and mix all together. Lastly, mix in the 2 egg whites. Cover a 9” x 13″ pan with parchment paper and spray with a nonstick cooking spray. Pour in mixture and spread out evenly. Bake at 300 for approximately 30-35 minutes.
1 lb pecan halves
1 c sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg white
1 T water
Pour all ingredients into a large ziploc bag. Shake and mix together well. Pour the pecans out onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.