Sunday, April 14, 2024

IMPRESSIONS: Hospitable and Affordable, Stillwater Cafe Brings “Honest, Homemade Meals” to Town

Owner David Gluek cooking up a storm. Photo by D.L. Dunn

Located at 912 Main Street, the Stillwater Cafe is in the quaint village of Stillwater. It is also the site of the former George D. Garris General Store built in 1876. Today, it still offers hearty, affordable fare with a friendly smile — and a working post office, if you need it. 

The Stillwater Post Office still operates out of the building but with the fun, original key-lock boxes. Photo by C. Tamulonis, 12/2023.

Garris, who kept the store operational for 67 years until he died in 1938, had served in the Second New Jersey Cavalry during the Civil War. It was passed down for three generations before the place changed hands and Dean Voris, a local historian and retired New Jersey State Police Officer, bought and renovated it.

See, Sept. 9. 2022, “Interesting Folks: Dean Voris, a Long-time Stillwater Resident Who Restored Garris’ General Store…” story by MB Journe to read more about his restoration project.

Current owner and Stillwater resident David Gluek is on a mission to bring “honest, homemade” meals to the roughly 4,000 Stillwater residents and whoever may be passing through.

The Stillwater General Store sign. Photo by C. Tamulonis

And folks do pass through.

“Need directions?” Gluek asked a UPS driver who stopped in for a cup of coffee in December.

“People get turned around in Stillwater,” Gluek explained, “It’s easy to find yourself on a random road.”

Gluek, a former accountant, has always had cooking in his blood.

“I cooked in high school and put myself through college cooking,” he said.

Finally, when the chance came to open his own cafe in Stillwater, he jumped at it. 

Cozy, ample seating exists for meetings of friends and associates. Photo by C. Tamulonis, 12/2023.

The food is cooked fresh by Gluek every day, and the portions are generous. The breakfast menu is three pages long and has New Jersey staples like three-egg omelets, lox and hash brown stacks. There is also the traditional Garis Taylor Ham, egg and cheese sandwich with “Thanks Mom” written on the menu for being voted #1.

Lunch brings an excellent selection of burgers, some aptly named for the surrounding areas. Take the Blairstown Burger, served with avocado, tomato, provolone cheese and garlic aioli. And of course, there are Rueben sandwiches, subs, grilled cheese and everything in between. 

A tempting plate of cheesesteak and fries. Photo credit, The Stillwater Cafe.

On alternating Friday evenings, Gluek offers a prix fixe (fixed price) menu, dubbed the Friday Feast on their Facebook page, at two seatings (5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.) that could rival any five-star restaurant in the state. The menu includes an appetizer, salad, main course and dessert for $32. BYOB, of course.

A recent appetizer of shrimp over quinoa with pickled cucumber. Photo credit, The Stillwater Cafe.

Past prix fixe menu choices have included shrimp over quinoa with pickled cucumber, salmon encrusted with pistachio and parmesan, short ribs and crab stuffed sole. Drooling yet? We haven’t even gotten to the deserts; chocolate panna cotta with mandarin orange, fresh carrot cake and pineapple coconut fluff to name a few. Seating is limited so reservations are a must.

Chocolate panna cotta from a recent prix fixe menu. Photo credit, The Stillwater Cafe.

A tall lanky figure that is always in motion, Gluek spins from front of the house to back, with a pot of coffee or a plate in hand. Cars and trucks line Main Street daily from the time he opens at 7 a.m. to closing at 3 p.m. — and yes, he knows everyone’s name and how they take their coffee. In keeping with the giving and close community of Stillwater, the cafe keeps a “Pay it Forward” rack on the porch and weather permitting it holds fresh local produce and other sundries donated by Gluek and the people of Stillwater for those in need.

The Pay it Forward rack outside the cafe. Photo credit, The Stillwater Cafe.

Call (973) 383-0442 for more information and follow them on Facebook here.

Cybele Tamulonis
Cybele Tamulonis, Contributing Writer

Cybele is a writer and editor with more than 16 years in the publishing industry. An avid reader, you can usually find her with the latest new book release from the local library. She currently resides on a farm in Hardwick with her husband and four children. In her spare time, she writes historical fiction specific to New Jersey.