Stoney Creek Roasters: Floating Writers’ Retreat

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by Ed Davis on August 25, 2011

My Secret “Fishing Hole”

I seriously considered not telling. But the matchmaker in me overruled my greed for peace and quiet; I love to recommend the exact right book for someone, introduce two people that wind up friends for life, or hook someone up with the exact music that he/she needs. So I’ve decided to tell you about one of the best public places I’ve ever found to write, rest, eat, drink and dream. Thirty or forty feet above a peaceful, wandering stream, Stoney Creek Roasters in Cedarville, Ohio, is one of the best places I’ve ever found to fish for words.

And the Coffee’s Delicious, Too

I’ve been a fan of coffeehouses since the first ones emerged in Dayton in the early nineties: Samuel Johnson’s on Main, and the Front Street Café, where you could get soup and salad, great coffee and baked goods, and, more importantly, hang out for as long as you want. And read and write.

Well, the two above-mentioned cafes are history (more’s the loss), but many more have arisen to take their place, thank goodness. A huge fan of Panera Bread and Barnes & Noble’s Café for the last two decades, I’ve found Stoney Creek Roasters a place of great hospitality—but a world away from the former venues’ suburban vibe. The food at SC is great: excellent home-made soups and sandwiches, thick-as-Massie-Creek-mud milkshakes and fine local-roasted brew (their Mexican Chiapas is the best decaf I’ve ever tasted). But the setting is the big draw for me.

Present Meets the Past

I discovered Stoney Creek last summer while passing through Cedarville on my way to West Virginia. I even stayed in the car while my wife went in for a road trip latte. Soon she emerged. “Get out of the car,” she ordered, smiling. On the sidewalk, I gazed first into Massie Creek. Then I glimpsed the wooden structure clinging to the side of the old brick building from the 1880s: not a creek-worthy craft but a beautiful half-moon deck extending outward like the prow of a ship. I looked around: history, nature, the old and the new were co-existing organically. Rather than knocking an old building down for the new business, the owners had chosen to restore and revitalize something beautiful, something already there. It was an auspicious introduction to enchantment.

On the Path

Does Cedarville, home of Cedarville University, seem far off the beaten path to you? Well, it was to me, too. However, due to the wonderful Miami Valley Bike Trail system, my wife and I have made Stoney Creek our biking destination for the past two summers. Deciding some time ago that it’s not only safer but more pleasurable to confine our cycling to the extensive trail system, we ride first to Xenia, then on to Cedarville, about forty miles round trip from Yellow Springs: a long ride, maybe, except that we break it up by lingering on the deck for a couple of hours.

“Doing what?” you well might ask. For me, writing; for my wife, reading, dozing, journaling. And not only do the owners not mind our hanging out, they encourage it by greeting us with warm smiles, bringing food and drink out to us on the deck as if it were a fine-dining restaurant rather than a coffeeshop!

Secret Ingredient

Not a biker, writer, coffee-drinker or ice cream fan? Well, if you just want a quiet, naturally aesthetic spot to hear yourself think (or not think), then cozy up to a table at the deck rail where you can look down-creek and see lazy-flowing water within gently-jutting banks populated by ferns, native limestone and big, peeling sycamores; look up-creek and see, beneath the main drag (Route 72), a curving stone arch inviting the imagination to dream of other times and places: the Underground Railroad, Tecumseh, Kenton, Boone…

A Place of Diverse Charms

Or invite some friends to meet you there. Three friends and I had a gab-fest the other evening on the deck while a gaggle of teenagers birthday partied above us in the courtyard. I stayed until the night breeze had me a-shiver, letting me know summer’s lease is rapidly expiring.

Not to worry, though. There’s ample space inside: two large rooms upstairs, plus a cave-like space below, fine for a writing group or meeting of whatever stripe. And the ambience indoors feels just as historically inviting as out, with squeaky floors, large windows, barrels full of coffee beans…and that caffeinated fragrance: Ahhh.

But the deck is where I thrive. There’s an indefinable aura hovering over the creek, where I’ve found ample inspiration for poems, stories, blogs and conversation. But if you go just for the shakes and smoothies, the three-generation–family who run the place won’t mind.

See you there?

P.S. The photos and videos on the website will make you want to fly—not bike or drive—to Cedarville! (And check out their extremely generous hours.)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

CPatLarge August 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm

What a beautiful spot! Thank you for sharing your secret.

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David M Morton August 26, 2011 at 2:15 am

I too like coffeehouses. Possibly some beatnik in me somewhere. Between classes I walk down to Ohio Coffee Company which is a current favorite of mine. SC looks above and beyond the common coffee shop. Hope to venture there soon and fish for a few good words. Hope they are biting.

PS – Really good job on winning the Hackney Literary Award! I think that warrants an exclamation point.

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Anonymous September 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Fifty miles one way via the bike path – looks like it will be well worth the trip. Thanks for the preview.

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Fatima May 23, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I know how terrible of me! I just got it and have been menniag to print one for it, I thought about pulling one from the prints I had printed but I know it would never get back in the album. Hopefully I will get one in there by the end of the year

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