'Just like mama used to make'
Making a bag lunch can be a simple, cheap way to get around your mid-day meal, but if you're looking for a quick, homemade lunch at a reasonable price, Rayetta's Lunchbox can fill the bill.
Rayetta's Lunchbox serves lunch during the week at its Marlinton location. Owner Rayetta Barnisky, said the place is family run — she does most of the cooking and her daughter, Anna Landis, does most of the dishing up and runs the register.
The mom-daughter team has been serving hot lunches on Second Avenue for two years now, and they keep busy with catering jobs, as well.
“When we started — this wasn't what we set out to do,” said Barnisky. “When we started, I was making candy for Tamarack and I was setting up a kitchen here to do the candies. We had some equipment that we could serve some lunch items with, and we just threw that in — now we do lunches, but no candy at Tamarack!”
Landis said Rayetta's doesn't really maintain a menu, they have different daily lunch specials — and the price is always pretty reasonable, between $4 - $6.50.
“Most of the time it's quick and easy lunches,” explained Barnisky. “Food that people can just come in, get their food and go. We do Mexican, we do Italian, different kinds of sandwiches, different salads, soups.”
Barnisky said they also serve hot dogs — just a dollar no matter what you get on it — and nachos every day if you're not interested in the daily special. She said a lot of her customers are locals, but folks stop in that are just passing through, too.
“We do get a lot of locals,” she said. “A lot of business customers from around town, the courthouse, places like that. They can just come in and get lunch with a minimal amount off waiting around. We see a lot of the same faces, but a lot of new people, too. Tourism [Pocahontas County Convention Visitors Bureau] sends a lot of people our way in the summertime.”
William Phillips, of Marlinton, said he comes to Rayetta's pretty regularly.
“It's excellent, excellent food — and a great price,” said Phillips. “Every time I've ever come here, I've left satisfied. You get a good portion of food. It's good food, and it's cheap.”
Phillips said he likes to pop in for lunch because it's fast, and you get service with a smile.
“In and out,” he said. “You don't have to wait too long. You come in, they've got everything ready. It doesn't matter how big the line is, you get through quick.”
Despite having tried a variety of the lunch options at Rayetta's, Phillips said he's partial to their nachos.
“I know it isn't much of a dish,” Phillips said. “But I've always loved their nachos. I come here and get my nachos — I'm a big nacho fan.”
Barnisky agreed the lunch portions are on the heavy side. You'll probably find yourself eating the lasagna or taco salad even days later.
“Definitely good sized portions — you get your money's worth!” laughed Barnisky.
If nothing else, the soft, hot homemade rolls that accompany some of the hot lunches are reason enough to pop into Rayetta's. Barnisky said she makes them from scratch and gets compliments all the time, she even gets special orders for them for a lot of their catering jobs.
If it's a sweet-tooth you're looking to satisfy, Rayetta's Lunchbox probably has you covered there, as well. Rayetta's features hand-dipped ice cream, homemade desserts and candies, cookies, cakes, pastries, pies and breads. All the baked goods are homemade using family recipes.
Barnisky said she's been cooking since she was just a kid, and she really enjoys it. If a lot of the lunches have a home-cooked feel to them, it's probably because the kitchen looks like your kitchen at home. Landis said the building was just a bunch of cinder block walls until they opened up shop, and they were looking for a home-kitchen kind of feel.
“We did all the work ourselves and set it up like a little, humble kitchen,” said Barnisky. “I even had some little kid come in once and say 'this is just like my kitchen at home!'”
Rayetta's can cater any event, large or small. Barnisky said most of her clients know what they want ahead of time, but she can offer different options to the undecided and provide help with planning menus. She said the catering side of things keeps them busy, especially around the holidays.
“We get a lot of the local businesses wanting us to cater dinners and that type of thing,” said Barniski. “The hospital will have us do lunches for them, or Southern States, we've done dinners for them.
Barnisky said it isn't easy running a business in Marlinton and she gets a lot of help from friends when they get really busy. Bob and Aelese Mader were bustling in the kitchen helping Barnisky prepare dinner for a catering event, and Summer Chestnut can often be found manning the counter and helping customers.
“We've been doing four or five dinners a week for the holidays — catering dinners, on top of all this! So our friends have been very helpful,” Barnisky said. “And we feel that God has truly blessed us with opening this place — he opened the doors and we're really grateful.”
Barnisky said they're going to try and expand their bread line and baked goods operation in the coming year. She said they're always open to new ideas and suggestions and invited anyone interested in January winter cooking classes to get in touch with her.
“Last year we did two or three bread making classes,” said Barniski. “This year we're going to put kind of a questionnaire out to see what people would like to do.”
Rayetta's Lunchbox is open for lunch, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For catering or information about winter cooking classes, call 304-799-4888.