I was immediately welcomed by owner Andrea Wallingford Barr, and found myself a seat. The first things I took in was the banter of the patrons, the decor -- I believe my mother in law refers to it as “primitive” -- and the smell. Mmmm, what could that be? I was definitely hungry at this point.
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I decided to order the daily special, which was soup beans with ham and cornbread. The name alone felt comforting. I also added a chef salad, which was much bigger than I expected.
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Just as I’d hoped, the cornbread with the warm bowl of beans, onions and ham brought me immediate comfort. The salad freshened up the palate, and I appreciated the fact it was made with artisan lettuce versus a bagged blend. You can always tell when the lettuce is fresh, hand-cut versus pre-packaged with tasteless onions and carrots.
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As I ate, I spoke with Barr and other guests about the cafe -- formerly a residence, church, bank, and as the name tells, a stagecoach stop. I learned one of their regulars, a man named Dewie, would be celebrating his 97th birthday the next day. Barr told me stories about Dewie as a WWII fighter pilot and how he found John Dillinger's getaway car off Union Road just outside of town. Abe's Hidden Treasures in New Carlisle was formerly a bank, and the first top Dillinger made in his bank-robbing escapade that began just north of Dayton.
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By this point, I was done with my food but I stayed for the conversation. I was fascinated by the stories of local mobsters, a hidden speakeasy, businesses of the past, and other artifacts of the town’s history.
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I couldn’t stay much longer as I had to run to another assignment, but after this pleasant experience -- both knowledge and food -- I have to say I’ll be coming back around again soon. There’s more menu to try and more history to learn, after all.
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Want to go?
WHAT: Stagecoach Cafe
WHERE: 120 W. Jefferson St., New Carlisle
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
CONTACT: Call 937-679-5282