PARADISE – There is some excitement in Paradise. The once-busy Cracker Barrel Restaurant located at 8990 State Road 165 was empty for years and is back in business as the Stillwater Café and convenience store/mercantile. Lisa Gamble and her husband George have been remodeling and updating the place for the past three years and opened the doors to the market on January 9. It is currently open from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m.
“We have been feeling the love from the community,” Lisa said. “People come in and share stories of coming to the place when they were kids with their parents and people who came here just to eat.”
The community has been very supportive of the store which has historical significance in the community. Parts of the store date back to 1880 when it operated as a Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution Trading Post. In 1955 the restaurant was added. It is the only retail store in town.
“We try and carry things the people in the community want or need,” she said. “You can also tell the kids out here have chores. They bring in their money and buy candy and other snacks.”
The Gamble’s found some old rodeo photos from the ’70’s in the back when they were working on the store and hung them on the walls. Someone came in and identified himself in one of the photos and went on to put names on the rest.
The Gambles have a unique outlook on their new business venture. They want to support the community and, so far, they feel like the community is supporting them.
“We plan to have a website where local artists can put up their work and sell it,” she said. “We have pottery, art, raspberry growers and even a coffee roaster in Paradise that can use the site.”
Stillwater Café will also be able to fill grocery orders online from suppliers and customers can have them picked them up at the store.
“We also offer home décor, we have a leather worker who brings in bridles and other things for horses,” she said. “We listen to our customers and try to bring things that they want.”
The café will open in the next couple of weeks.
“We have a cook that has been cooking for 20 years as a ranch hand cook,” she said. “And we have a baker that we hope will be cooking three days a week.”
They plan to offer comfort food, hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, and Alan Stock’s prime rib on the weekends. Stock owned the restaurant and his prime rib was legendary and he was well thought of.
“He passed away a few months ago,” she said. “We hope to put up a plaque in his honor.”
With Week’s Berries down the road, raspberry shakes are sure to be on the menu as well.
George Gamble works on computers internationally and helped set up the system the business uses.
“We have a three-pillar business model,” George said. “We have the mercantile, the café and a website the community can use to buy and sell their goods. They can also order groceries from our suppliers and pick them up at the store.”
He said COVID-19 has changed the way businesses do things and they hope to be a model of how things can be done.
“We want to work with the community to see what the needs are,” George said. “Companies are going to have to take care of their community.”
They are talking about having a horse night when customers can ride up on their horses or a tractor.
“We don’t owe anything on the building,” he said. “We are going into this without owing anything. It is her dream; she has been letting me do my thing for 33 years. Now it’s her time to do what she wants to do.”