Photo by Suzanne Stewart
The ladies at the Starlight Café, from left, Cindy Defibaugh, April Roush and Tonya Warder, take great care in providing delicious meals made with quality ingredients to visitors and locals.

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

It may look like a small snack bar nestled in the corner of the Green Bank Observatory Science Center, but the Starlight Café has much more to offer than just snacks.

With lunch staples like hot dogs, hamburgers, wraps and salads, dinner specials including pork barbecue and subs, hand-dipped ice cream for dessert and the new pizza oven, the café has all you could ask for when hunger pangs hit.

“Everything is made fresh,” hospitality supervisor Tonya Warder said. “We don’t have anything pre-packaged. I make my own slaw and chili.”

Along with serving “the usual,” the café also caters to several dietary needs like gluten free and vegan.

“We cater to vegetarians or special diets,” hospitality manager Doug Honnor said. “The other thing we see more and more is allergies – gluten, lactose intolerant – all those kinds of things, so we always have something on hand for those folks, as well.”

The café opened in 2003, when the science center was dedicated, and has been a stopping place for observatory employees, locals and tourists, who want a quick meal made with quality ingredients.

“People, for some reason, seem to think only the observatory can come here,” Warder said. “We are open to the general public.”

“They do cater a lot to the local businesses,” Honnor added. “We get a lot of the bank employees, the doctor’s offices, the dentists.”

The café has been doing so well that, this year, it was selected as one of the 101 Unique Places to Dine in West Virginia by the West Virginia Division of Tourism. The Starlight Café and Foxfire Grille at Snowshoe were the only Pocahontas County eateries selected for 2017.

“I heard we were nominated but there was no follow up for a while,” Warder said. “We got this skillet and it was upside down. I wondered why we had this skillet then I flipped it over. We didn’t know we made it until the skillet came.”

In the 14 years it has served the community, the Starlight Café has stuck to its motto of fresh ingredients and homemade items and has served diners from all over the country and the world.

Along with walk-ins, the café offers group menus. A group menu order must be made at least two weeks in advance. For more information, contact Warder at 304-456-2361 or by email at twarder@nrao.edu

The café is open: winter and spring, Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; summer, seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and fall Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.