Inside The Bubble of Shepherdstown

It’s a Wednesday evening. You walk into Blue Moon and the possibilities are endless. In one evening, you can hear a guy play Adele’s “Skyfall” on his violin, hear a regular sing “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5 or even a local just picking at the strings on his guitar while trying to drunkenly sing Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah.”

However, that is not all Blue Moon has to offer. You can walk through the doors any day of the week and order food from the plastic menu that offers an endless array of options. You can eat anything you’re craving there from a hummus plate served with tortilla chips, warm flatbread points and fresh cucumber slices, to the “Pilgrim,” which is a smoked turkey breast, oven-heated brie and cranberry aioli or a dish like “Curt’s Quesadilla,” which includes baby spinach, black beans and two cheeses.

If you are searching for a place with a variety of food choices, Blue Moon is the place to go! Like other places in Shepherdstown, Blue Moon supports local products. They get a lot of their produce from local farms and farmer’s markets. They also hire locally when it comes to employees. You won’t ever see an employee driving thirty minutes to come to work. The restaurant is comprised of townies hanging out and making food for other townies or tourists.

That is one aspect that makes Shepherdstown so interesting and inviting. While the restaurants, the coffeehouses and the shops make it intriguing, this town would be nothing without the residents, better known as the locals. Their contribution to the laidback feel of the businesses here is the reason people like and want to visit this town. Shepherdstown is a tight-knit, homey place where community is at the heart of it all.

Shepherdstown is said to be “a town that belongs to no one.” Technically speaking, it’s part of Jefferson County. Regardless of this fact, anyone that’s ever been to Shepherdstown will say that it is a “bubble” of Jefferson County. Whether you live here or are just coming to visit, there is a unique air as you walk down the sidewalks. A lot of the tourists come here for the artistic feel the town has, and while it is artistic, it is also one of a kind.

In Shepherdstown, it is not uncommon to see a local walking around without shoes on or a group of guys playing acoustic guitar or banjos outside of Lost Dog Coffee Shop, which seems to be one of the best places to grab a cup of coffee or espresso in Shepherdstown, and the locals will agree.

Lost Dog Coffee Shop is a town favorite. Pretty much any local will point you in that direction if you are looking for some good coffee. It is not the cheapest coffee, but it is usually worth every penny because it is more than coffee. Lost Dog is one of the most eccentric coffee shops in Shepherdstown.

Almost always, the employees working will prop the door open if the weather is nice. They also always have music blasting. It is a really inviting place to hang out and the students love it. “I go to Lost Dog if I want to study or listen to music by myself or if I want to get something to go,” said Madison Boehm, a sophomore and English education major at Shepherd who has lived ten minutes from Shepherdstown her entire life.

While Lost Dog is definitely a town favorite, it is not the only place that makes this town interesting. Some other nice places to hang out are Mellow Moods and the bakery, best known as The Sweet Shop. These two spots in town are known for their food and baked goods but are more than willing to just let you hang out and not feel obligated to buy a single thing.

Mellow Moods is known for their smoothies, juices and sandwiches, but they also sell soup, salads and coffee. Their entire menu is organic and gluten free. Their juices are fresh and made with local vegetables and fruits. A town favorite is the “Pink Sun,” which has oranges, strawberries and grapefruit in it. The juices are decadent but the smoothies seem to bring the most buzz to Mellow Moods. The town favorite “Green Mountain” includes strawberries, mango, pineapple, spirulina and agave. It is delicious and if you ever are in Shepherdstown, it is a must-have!

Mellow Moods is great but if you are in need of a sweet tooth fix, The Sweet Shop might be a better option. They offer baked goods that include muffins, cookies, croissants, donuts, breads, cupcakes, cakes, macaroons, whoopie pies, eclairs, coffee cakes and much more. The breads are baked fresh every day amongst other items you can get there.

While these two places are ideal to get something to eat or drink, you can just go there to hang out and relax. That is a reason people feel welcome in Shepherdstown. Everyone is friendly and the atmosphere of the town is very peaceful and serene. “I hang around town because it is relaxing. I never feel pressured to do anything productive when I’m in town, and that is nice sometimes,” Boehm said.

“I moved here when I was 10, because my parents did not want to live in the city anymore. I like this town because I know everyone and I like the whole art scene it has,” said Kelsey Severson, a local of 10 years and an employee at The Sweet Shop.

The locals describe this town as a family. They all support each other.

“I love Shepherdstown,” said Rebecca Drewry, a resident of Shepherdstown since birth who is studying political science at Shepherd. “I don’t want to live here the rest of my life but I’m glad I grew up in a small town. Someone is always going to help you.”

The shops and coffee are only two elements that make Shepherdstown special. The people and their talents are also interesting. The locals are fully aware of the talents that the residents of Shepherdstown have.

Felix Janssen is 17 years old and has been around Shepherdstown his whole life. “It is a small town and for that reason, it has a really nice atmosphere,” he said. “I know mostly everyone here. If you need something done, there is such a range of talents. Everyone helps each other. Last year, my car needed a new axle and that is something that is really expensive. Instead of taking it to a mechanic, my dad knows a guy who lives in town and he fixed it for free and saved me a lot of money. That is what I mean by anyone is going to help you out if you need something.”

The musical talent in this town is mind-blowing. There are so many unique artists who are not looking to be famous; they just do it for the sole purpose of loving music. That is why you always see guys outside of Lost Dog playing guitars—because they really and honestly enjoy it.

There are a lot of local restaurants and pubs that transform into places where people can display their talent in the evening. Devonshire Arms Café and Pub has an open mic on Thursdays and Blue Moon has one on Wednesdays. The Opera House has shows for local bands from time to time. Other evenings, you can go to The Opera House and see a movie.

Out of all the venues, Blue Moon is a town favorite. Anyone can walk through the doors of the restaurant and sign up for a slot to play three songs that evening. That is what makes it so exciting. Sure, it is mostly just locals playing folk music but that is always great and nice to hear. The diverse range of people in this town comes through in their eclectic styles of music. There is always something different when you go to Blue Moon for open mic.

Open mic nights are great but another thing that makes this town so special is the occasional random group of guys anywhere on German Street that play guitar or banjo and sing. I have sat outside of the coffee shop multiple times and listened to whoever is playing and it is really peaceful and relaxing. You do not have to worry about doing anything but drinking your coffee and listening to The Smiths covered by a local. It is a two-for-one.

Whether it be good food, coffee, quirky shops, spontaneous music or just striking up a conversation with a local about the history of the town, you are going to enjoy your time in Shepherdstown. There is just something about it that you cannot put into words. It is a really enjoyable spot with the whole small-town feeling to it.

“Just do not drink the water and I think you will be all right,” said Ashton DeAngell, a Mellow Moods employee.

“Really?” I asked laughing.

“Yeah, seriously. It’s disgusting.”