Several Benezette businesses and artisans nestled in the heart of elk country meet tourists and serve local customers all year round.
Old Bull CafeThe Old Bull Cafe at 55 Church Street reopened for the season with new ownership in March of this year.
The Old Bull Cafe, “where the herd comes to gather,” at 55 Church Street in Benezette is a short walk away from the Benezette Hotel, and a drive away from the Elk Country Visitor Center.
The restaurant incorporated new menu items such as the elk burger, baked goods, homemade mashed potatoes and roasted turkey or meatloaf. In part of the cafe is also a gift shop with elk memorabilia, keychains, jewelry and more for locals and tourists.
Best friends of five years Chelsea Rearick and Shannon Smith said their goal is to attract customers, but “get them back outdoors,” to see the sights.
In the back part of the restaurant is also an ice cream window and outside dining area, where the women serve Perry’s ice cream.
For more information, call the OBC at 814-787-7545 or visit the Facebook page.
Benezette HotelBrian Kunes and Matthew Castle have co-owned the Benezette Hotel on Winslow Road for 13 years.
Other than the eight rooms available for overnight stays, the hotel also has a full-service restaurant and bar, and has become a staple in the community for elk viewing.
A Benezette Hotel employee traced the facility’s ownership back to 1843, but they believe it’s been around much longer than that. Kunes and Castle purchased the hotel in 2006, with the goal of turning it into a family-oriented eating environment where guests can relax and enjoy the view.
The owners enjoy witnessing a tourist’s first time seeing the elk, Kunes said, which makes their overall experience at the hotel more enjoyable.
Staff members do their best to educate tourists on when the elk are most visible, Kunes said, so that they don’t leave disappointed.
“Especially on hot summer days and warm fall days, elk are in the woods, lying in the shade,” he said. “That frustration, when they don’t see the elk, is understandable, so we do our best to educate them on the best times to see the elk, which would be the early morning and right before dusk.”
Viewing experiences for guests vary by season, Kunes said, such as seeing the elk bugle and fight off competitors during mating season in September and October. Elk can be seen in large groups in the winter time.
The hotel recently invested in a new smoker, Kunes said, and will be offering many more smoked specials all week long during rut season.
For more information, visit www.benezettehotel.com.
Rut ‘n’ Bugle DistilleryRut ‘n’ Bugle Distillery, formerly L&L Elk Wilds Mountain Top Distillery Outlet and owned by Leighann Copello, offers 26 flavors of Pennsylvania moonshine and “all the flavors of the elk mountains.”
The outdoors mean something special to Copello, who was born and raised in the elk country of Benezette, where she has been fishing since she was a child.
Rut ‘n’ Bugle also carries outdoorsy décor and camping supplies such as blankets, knives and tools, since Benezette is a renowned hunting camp location for tourists, and has a few consigners who create items like candles and jewelry, elk magnets and memorabilia.
“The people who come in are just as amazed with the elk every year,” she said. “They show you pictures and they get so excited.”
Nuthatch StudiosNuthatch Studios is a rustic wooden cabin full of artwork in Benezette.
The family-owned and operated studio exhibits the work of Kathleen, Martin and Vic DePasse of Pittsburgh.
The studio, open May through November, sometimes offers live chainsaw carving in the front yard, seasonal sculptures like pumpkins and Christmas items and the beauty of the autumn season, Kathi said.
The shop is an addition to the family hunting camp, where they’ve come for almost 50 years, Kathi said. It was built by the DePasse family as well.
Everything in the Elk County shop, except wooden puzzle boxes, is handmade by one of the three artists, Kathi said. Visitors can see anything from landscape paintings, drawings, jewelry and pottery, to front-yard carvings and Halloween woodcrafts on the deck.
For more information, visit Nuthatch Studios on Facebook or call 814-787-4004.