Tag: West Virginia

Ritzy Lunch Experience 

Some people might call Ritzy Lunch an old hotdog joint, while others may label it a dive.  

It’s not fancy enough for some, and too old fashioned for others. 

Ritzy Lunch is clean, but its tiles, walls, and clock are stained from years and years of patrons, and cooks, puffing away on their favorite smoke. Of course, smoking isn’t allowed any longer, but 70 years or so of nicotine haze has given the place a special look you don’t get anywhere else.

I realize I’m just one guy, and my opinion may not mean anything to you, but there’s something very special about Ritzy Lunch. 

To me, it’s an experience that’s worth the drive. 

Though we live in Iowa, we make regular visits to West Virginia. We spend time relaxing at North Bend State Park, in the Harrisville vicinity, and visit family who live about a half hour away. 

A tradition has developed over the last 7-8 years, one that I can blame (or thank) my brother-in-law for. We make the trip to Ritzy (about a 45 minute drive from his house) one time during our W.Va. visit. 

What do we have to eat? Two hotdogs in steamed buns, chili, onion, cayenne pepper, and french fries, served in a plastic basket. Add a Diet Coke, and we are set for the hour.  


The first time I visited Ritzy, its owner, Hotdog John, came by the old wooden booth we were seated in and began jabbering about his hotdog chili. I had already been warned not to call it “sauce”, but I didn’t know his feelings about mustard. 

So when he heard me order 2 dogs with chili, onion, and NO MUSTARD, you’d have thought I had just hit him below the belt! 
“What?! You can’t do that!”

After he finished razzing me a while he winked, thanked me for coming in, and walked over to the next booth to give his other patrons the same friendly service.  

People have been dining at Ritzy Lunch for 82 years; a family owned and operated business in downtown Clarksburg, West Virginia. Easy to find, on Pike Street, just a few blocks off of US Highway 50. 

Remember that old television commercial for Master Card? It went something like this:

Hotdogs (2), Fries, all the fixings – $7

Downtown Parking Meters – $1 for a few hours 

The whole Ritzy Lunch experience – PRICELESS!

Sure, a person may POSSIBLY find a hotdog that compares with a Ritzy Lunch dog. And perhaps the fries are like the ones found in other restaurants. 

But you will NEVER find anything else that compares to the Ritzy Lunch experience. The ambience, the friendly service, the old counter and wooden stools, cayenne pepper shakers; I’m talking atmosphere! 

While I was preparing to write this blog, I started thinking about the similarities between the Ritzy Lunch experience and the Kingdom of God. 

As I’ve mentioned, fancy isn’t a word that describes Ritzy. But it IS a place where everyone is accepted and appreciated. 

So with the Kingdom of God. 

The ONLY requirement to enter the Kingdom of God is you and I must enter through the door. Anyone who goes through the door is welcomed and fed. 

I’d like to see more churches with the atmosphere; the warm, welcoming atmosphere found at Ritzy Lunch. 


The door to Ritzy informs those interested in the Ritzy Lunch experience the hours of operation and the need to wear a shirt and shoes. 

Jesus is the door to the Kingdom of God, and He has stated His requirements in the gospel of John (not to be confused with Hotdog John). 

“So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.'” (John 10:7-10 ESV)

Another couple of passages from John, only these are from his first letter.

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:15-16 ESV)

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12 ESV)

A person may stand on the sidewalk, there on Pike Street and look through Ritzy Lunch’s window for hours, but never experience what I’ve been writing about. 

You see, to thoroughly understand the Ritzy Lunch experience, one must open AND walk through the door.

It’s the same way with God and His Kingdom. Going to church, reading the bible, and telling everyone what you’ve heard and read is all very nice. But you must go through the door to experience the Kingdom and eternal life.

And Jesus is the Door.

Please take a few moments to read the newspaper article I photographed and posted below. It gives the history of one of Clarksburg’s finest. More than a hotdog joint, more than a quaint, downtown diner; it’s the Ritzy Lunch experience!

While you’re at it, please read more of the Apostle John’s writings, especially John chapter ten. It provides you with the incentive and the necessary information on how to enter the Kingdom of God. 

And if you’re ever in the Clarksburg area, make sure you plan a trip for a true, Ritzy Lunch experience. 

And tell them Jan sent you!


Our North Bend Family

Situated in the middle of Ritchie County, West Virginia, amidst the hills, trees, and deer, is a wonderful State Park called North Bend.

It’s located about 5 miles west of the County Seat, Harrisville. It has a nice lake for fishing, hiking trails, campgrounds, cabins, and (I saved the best for last) the North Bend Lodge.20140427-223603.jpg

If you ever want to go to a place where you can relax or visit friends and family, for a day or for two and a half weeks, North Bend Lodge is THE place to stay.
We should know. Phyllis and I called it home six different times during the last six months.

It’s the place we stayed when we were spending time with Mom and the family during the final months and days of her life.

Mom lived in a country house about 25 miles away. Near the town of West Union, W.Va., on the Oxford Road about 4 miles from Sunnyside. We stayed at the lodge so we’d have our own space, as would the rest of the family. 20140427-223747.jpg

Is the lodge fancy? No. Homey? Quite nice and comfy.

Why did we fall in love with North Bend Lodge? The people!

The people who work at the Lodge.

Every time we needed a room, even if they technically didn’t have one available they made it work out for us. They treated us like we were special; even cried with us when talking about losing our loved one. Most people don’t care about your heartaches.

People who are family cry with you.

We were there in the fall, with all the beautiful autumn leaves waving in the breeze as if to call to everyone driving by: “Hey! Look at me! John Denver wrote his song about me!”
We stayed in the lodge both at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even though the weather outside, at times, was frightful, inside was so delightful. The lobby, with its huge fireplace, comfortable leather sofas, and free wifi kept everyone comfy and warm.

Our all time favorite room is room 212. Why? I don’t know, but it is. We also like one of the mini-suites, room 119, and the huge full size suite, room 208.

There’s a real nice dining room at the lodge. I believe they have the biggest eggs in the United States. Phyllis and I split a (supposedly) three egg cheese and bacon omelet, hash browns and toast. But when the server brought our two plates out (they divided it for us) my HALF of the omelet was bigger than anything I’ve been served at Perkins or Denny’s. And, wow, was it good.
We stayed at the lodge just last week. Mom passed away on April 17th so we booked a room at the lodge. Number 212.

One day, upon returning to our room, we found a sympathy card and a little plaque on our desk. It was from the employees, our North Bend family. Handwritten on the card were condolences from at least twenty people; some we had met, and others who just wanted us to know they really cared.

It made us cry.

Our North Bend family touched our hearts.

God used them to bless our lives, to help ease the pain, to hold our hands and hearts with their above and beyond kind of hospitality.

North Bend family – thank you.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

And one of these days we’re going to take another vacation out your way, and ask a familiar question…

Is room 212 available?

In case you’re interested, here’s a link to the lodge’s website. http://www.northbendsp.com/

If you find yourself getting ready to book a room, remember two things:

1. Tell them Jan and Phyllis sent you.
2. Leave room 212 alone. It’s ours.

Easter Up The Hollow


IMG_3987Today, Easter Sunday 2014, was a day to remember. My wife and I, along with her sister, and her sister’s daughter and husband, attended Saint Johannes Lutheran Church in St. Clara, West Virginia. Well, I’m not sure if it’s IN St. Clara, or just close by. Really, it’s “up the holler”, as the locals would say. Or, for you people who like to speak proper English, to you it’s “up the hollow”. Regardless, it’s one beautiful place.
The church was started way back in June, 1888. Yes, that’s just about 126 years. A lot of history, a lot of pastors, weddings, funerals, pot luck dinners…and a lot of God.

It’s nice to know that God hasn’t changed in 126 years, even though the building has.

Phyllis and I attended the church back in the initial days of our search for truth and life. We didn’t realize we were looking for Jesus, but we were. We had been married only 1-2 years, and were a couple of young kids. This was in 1973-74.

At the beginning of the service, from the back of the sanctuary flowed a beautiful melody, “Alleluia Canon”, that was awesome. Two ladies were singing, accompanied by some soft wind instruments. It made the hairs on the back of my neck rise up, like they were trying to praise and worship the God of the Resurrection! It was amazing.
God came to church, right out there in the hollow. Wow!

Scripture readings came from Acts 10, Psalm 118, Colossians 3, and Matthew 28. We heard that Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, that today is the day of salvation, Christ is risen and we are risen with him, and that no stone or devil can stop God’s work.

IMG_3966One thing I specifically gleaned from the message was life happens. Regardless of whether we have our life planned out for us or not, or even just part of a day. Things happen that we may not be ready for, or even want to take place, but with the Spirit’s help we can face it, endure it, and even reign above it. Praise the Lord.

Communion was powerful; connecting the resurrection of Jesus with his promise to come again.

IMG_3974They didn’t have what I would call a “worship team”, and some of the songs were unfamiliar to me, but God was worshipped. Even though we sang from a hymnal, recited the Lord’s prayer, and read the Apostle’s Creed in unison,

IMG_3968God was there.

Why wouldn’t he be? He’s been associated with Saint Johannes Lutheran Church for almost 126 years. And he’s the one who said, “If you seek me, you will find me; when you search for me with all your heart. And I will be found by you…”

IMG_3964Even “up the hollow.”

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