People can enjoy local bites and Creekside craft beer in Millheim
Patrons who visit the Elk Creek Cafe at 100 W. Main St. can usually listen to live music while eating their local meals and drinking craft beers. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it put an end to not only indoor dining, but live music as well.
But thanks to some “good neighbors,” said Elk Creek owner Tim Bowser, the restaurant was able to keep the losses from being as bad as they could have been. The Millheim Fire Company let Elk Creek set up across the street, where bands could perform and people could sprawl out on the grass. A smaller menu of food was available for purchase at what became known as “By the stream”Place, just like beer.
“Last year was tough, really tough,” Bowser said. “It would have been a lot more difficult if the fire department hadn’t invited us to move across the street, because we couldn’t be open from March to, I think, was in October, before. to be able to be here again. So that really saved the day.
The last time live music was performed inside the Elk Creek Cafe was on March 15, 2020. But the music continued almost every weekend from the first week of June to November 2020 from across the street on the grounds of the Millheim Fireman Social Club. They continued to adjust with take-out food and a beer truck, loaned to Elk Creek by the fire company.
Even as COVID-19 restrictions have eased and things have returned to “normal,” Bowser said customers have asked if they will continue their music outdoors. Some said they were still uncomfortable eating inside, while others just enjoyed the cool atmosphere.
“A lot of people have told us that they are hopeful that we would be open to the outdoors again this year because they weren’t ready to come in for shows or just be nearby,” Bowser said. “I think things have certainly changed quickly over the past three weeks. But I think there are still a lot of people who are suspicious.
A new stage and high-tech blanket – which can withstand 70 mph winds – has been purchased and installed across the street for the cafe to continue its “Creekside” events this year.
“So this year we feel a little more established there,” Bowser said. “We set up this scene with a tarp, bought a trailer and put it in our own beer truck. And we are trying to operate on both fronts.
Hannah Bingman of The Dilly Beans has performed at the Elk Creek Cafe since it opened in the early 2000s. She said the stage will provide shade for the band and other performers, but allows people to get together safely outdoors while listening to music and drinking a “good beer”.
She has performed in different fields, but thinks Millheim is a welcoming neighborhood and has a vibrant music scene.
“We’ve been very community oriented from day one here,” Bowser said. “It was our goal to open this place was to be a community gathering place to welcome everyone into the community. And it has been gratifying with the support we have received and enjoyed over the past 15 months. It has really, really been a community effort.
The Elk Creek Cafe will feature music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays almost every week until at least October. Plans are in place for her Oktoberfest fundraiser for the Fire Company to return on September 25. Elk Creek Cafe will also remain open for indoor dining and beer.