New shops help revitalize Irwin business district

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Saturday at McFeely's Gourmet Chocolate in Irwin, Stacey Korber of North Huntingdon sampled Movie Time vanilla ice cream studded with salted caramel truffle fudge and sea salt caramel swirls.

"It tastes like popcorn," she said.

Mrs. Korber said she and her husband, Daniel, who was trying Bittersweet Symphony, a dark chocolate and coffee ice cream, would return to the store with their children, ages 12, 8 and 7.

McFeely's Gourmet Chocolate on Fourth Street is one of a number of stores that have opened in Irwin within the past year, including several women's boutiques and a deli that serves breakfast, deli lunch sandwiches and supper Monday through Friday and part of Saturday.

"The new businesses have energized the town," Irwin Councilwoman Gail Macioce said.

Owners of established businesses are also happy.

"The more the merrier!" Bill Waldsmith of Pamela's Cards, Gifts and Crafts said.

"The more businesses we get down here the more customers we get," Gary Santimyer, owner of the Colonial Grille, said. "The new stores I've seen seem to complement each other [and] bring another demographic into town."

At McFeely's, the fare includes fudge and chocolates as well as a menu of 18 ice creams made by Perry's Ice Cream of Akron, N.Y.

Owner Marion McFeely said Movie Time is a big seller, and that the Oh My Cherry Pie, banana cream pie and apple pie flavors sell out as soon as she gets them in.

On Saturday, fudge for sale included double peanut butter and chocolate fudge, maple walnut and vanilla fudge and pumpkin fudge for the season, among others.

The store's fudge is made by Walt and Molly Rainey of Munhall, owners of Goody House.

Mrs. McFeely makes all of the chocolates in the store, with help from her sister, Susie Olwell of North Huntingdon.

She first started making chocolate in her mother's kitchen about 35 years ago. Mrs. McFeely said she wanted to invest in Irwin because of all the work the borough has done to revitalize it, and because she wanted to help bring the Irwin business district back to what it was when she was growing up.

Customers coming in have told her they missed Isaly's Restaurant and are glad there is an ice cream shop in town again, she said.

On Saturday, other items for sale at the store included gourmet apples dipped in caramel, then chocolate. The apples can be studded with peanuts, cashews, pecans, Oreo pieces or other items of the customer's choice, Mrs. McFeely said.

About two dozen slices of chocolate-covered tangerines and strawberries had almost sold out during the Homecoming parade Saturday, she said.

The cases were also full of more than 30 kinds of handmade chocolate and cookies.

Next door to McFeely's on Fourth Street is Amelia Mae's Deli, which is run by Tory Eiland and his children, Erika, Marque, Jazmine and Torrie.

Daughter Jazmine makes 20 to 60 pounds of pulled pork for the restaurant each week, son Marque helps behind the counter and invented The Titanic turkey sandwich for the store, and other children help run the cash register.

Mr. Eiland is full of enthusiasm for his new venture, which offers multilayered Dagwood-style sandwiches with many ingredients.

On Saturday, one sandwich listed on the deli's whiteboard included The Balboa, which contains Genoa salami, honey ham, pepperoni, mild peppers, onion, mayonnaise and mustard topped with provolone and mozzarella cheeses and fresh pork sausage.

Another sandwich he mentioned, The Chicken Brick House, contains oven roasted chicken sliced thin, fresh slab bacon, melted brick cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise and a drizzle of sweet onion dressing on an egg Kaiser roll.

Hours for the store are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Monday.

At the corner of Fourth and Main streets, a new women's boutique, Mon Cherie Jewelry, Gifts and Accessories, has opened.

On Saturday, the window display there included silver pendants with red, orange, cobalt blue or teal blue centers; silver, gold and bittersweet orange platters adorned with autumn leaves; and purses, backpacks and duffel bags in black, blue and teal with colorful paisley and flower patterns.

Up Main Street from Mon Cherie are new businesses Jess B Bakes cupcake store; and Mixes Galore, which sells mixes for soups, chilies, chowders, stews and bisques as well as measuring bowls and spoons.

Across the street another new store, Celebrate YOU Boutique, offers gifts, accessories, artisan items and clothing.

And in the old Clock Tower Building on Main Street, Innoscents Candle Company offers 100 percent soy wax candles.

Other business new to downtown include Expressions Boutique on Main Street, which sells dancewear and accessories; Pak Mail Pittsburgh on Route 993; J&C Boat Maintenance, CPS Photography, Chronister Visuals, Occasion Creations and Hoke Accounting.


Anne Cloonan, freelance writer:

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