BY SATHIYAN SIVAKUMARAN, HUBCAP III VISTA, THE HUB
Just before West Virginia had its 155th birthday, a restaurant in Richwood, WV opened its doors to the public on June 12, 2018. The restaurant goes by the name Whistle Punk Grill & Taphouse, and it’s a place that truly honors the past while working toward a better today and tomorrow for Richwood and its neighbors.
The married owners of this innovative restaurant, Stacy and Lance Raffo, named the restaurant to celebrate the rich heritage of Richwood as a lumber town: a “whistle punk” was a lumberjack who would sound a whistle as a signal, and in this case, for meal time. The celebration of Richwood’s culture and history doesn’t stop there, with sandwiches named after various logging terms and burgers named after Richwood community legends. All of this takes place in a renovated, while still rustic, building that opened as the Richwood Bakery in 1923. The understanding and respect of this history continues to be passed down, and in this case, it’s passed down by a newly opened restaurant and taphouse.
As the restaurant embraces the history of Richwood, it also opens up its doors to the opportunities of today. Stacy, when talking about the restaurant, mentions how much she loves Richwood. “We believe in Richwood, and its viability to come back and be revitalized,” she says.
This belief is something that also has motivated Stacy to be a core member of Richwood’s HubCAP team, a group initiated and assisted by the WV Community Development Hub to achieve this community revitalization. Whistle Punk plays a huge role in this vision by purchasing as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible, supporting local farmers from Nicholas County and Fayette County, providing wine, beer, and ciders from West Virginia, and coordinating various ways to give back to the community. On the first Friday of every month, Whistle Punk donates 10% of its sales to a local group at random, reinvesting money and compassion into the community.
Stacy Raffo and her husband, Lance, see Whistle Punk as more than a restaurant and as the restaurant continues to solidify its place in Richwood, the community is seeing it as more than a restaurant. It also serves as a community gathering place. People can appreciate local art and live music at Whistle Punk, sharing energy and creativity from many locals with other community members and visitors. In a couple of weeks, there will be a “Bottle & Brush” event to get creative painting with a drink in hand. Whistle Punk continues to strive to bring people together through food, drink, and culture.
It is amazing when a restaurant provides so much to a community that the food doesn’t even make an appearance till the final paragraph. This is even more amazing considering the consistent 5 star reviews Whistle Punk has been receiving.
With a diverse and creative menu, Stacy and Lance Raffo offer up a ton of delicious food with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. Gluten-free options are aplenty as well. The Raffos’ daughter has Celiac disease, which Stacy mentions helps them provide truly gluten-free options on the menu, without any gluten contamination. While a number of selections are highly praised, Stacy says the crab dip has emerged as a bestseller – it may help that Lance Raffo is from Annapolis, Maryland, and has worked in food and beverage for the past 25 years. As Stacy puts it, “He knows crab dip.”
If you want to visit a restaurant that brings people together through amazing food and drinks and a beautiful display of culture, visit Whistle Punk Grill & Taphouse in Richwood, WV. As one Facebook reviewer puts it, “if you’re anywhere in the mountains of West Virginia, Whistle Punk is worth the drive.”
Whistle Punk has a number of events coming up in September:
- September 13: The first “Books and Brews Club” meeting!
- September 16: The first Farm to Table Dinner. Tickets and more info can be found here.
- September 20: Bottle and Brush Event – the first one was so successful that this one will be offered twice in one night, from 5-7 and 7-9! Advanced tickets are required.
- September 22: Stop by for live acoustic music by Emmalea Deal, a musician from Summersville, WV.
Join their following of more than 2,000 people to keep up with Whistle Punk Grill & Taphouse on Facebook and visit them at 35 E Main St., Richwood, WV!