By By Jeanie Brown Princeton Times
Princeton Times, W.Va.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Just in time for the holidays, Entrepreneur Ashley Smiley is launching a catering service where customers “can get homecooking without the unhealthy ton of butter that has given West Virginia a bad rap.”
If you’re looking for a “fresh spin on local favorites” for that special get-together, holiday dinner, bridal shower, or corporate event, Upper Crust Catering is ready to serve. If you’d like a perfectly baked pie for Thanksgiving, it’s just a phone call away.
Opening in Princeton next week, Upper Crust, owned by chef and entrepreneur Ashley Smiley, will be preparing custom delicacies and buffets for parties of up to 50 people. They will also be offering custom gift baskets, catered trays, dinners-to-go, and boxed lunches.
According to Smiley, the catering service will be a place where customers “can get homecooking without the unhealthy ton of butter that has given West Virginia a bad rap. I want to offer a new, lighter cuisine with fresh, new ingredients. I like incorporating ingredients that might be a little unfamiliar and lighten up what we know.”
Smiley’s knack for cooking is in her blood, says her aunt, Sue Smiley Rumburg. Smiley’s grandfather, Carmello Smiley, owned and operated the iconic Princeton restaurant, Smiley Boy Drive-In. Smiley Boy Drive-In, which was located on Oakvale Road until the late 1970s, was known for the famous Poor Boy Sandwich, a double decker hamburger assembled just-so.
“We know how to make a decent sandwich, and the order the condiments are to go on,” says Smiley,
The special recipe for the secret sauce of the Poor Boy has been passed down through the family, and Smiley plans to use it in some of her own creations. She also cans the BBQ sauce from another iconic Princeton restaurant, Mooney’s Barbecue. Smiley’s grandmother, Betty, was once a caretaker for Mrs. Mooney, says Rumburg, and Mrs. Mooney shared the recipe with her.
“Somehow or other, she smuggled that recipe out,” jokes Smiley.
The sauce, which Smiley says should come with a warning label for its spiciness, is perfect on pulled pork with homemade slaw.
Smiley’s great-uncle, Joe Smiley, built the Sterling Drive-In in Welch and then went on to build the Parkette Drive-In in Lexington, Kentucky, a restaurant which has been featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and the Rachel Ray Show. Like others in her family, cooking just comes naturally to Smiley.
Smiley’s dad, Mike, is a partner in the business as well as the inspiration behind Smiley’s love of food.
“There are ten years between me and my younger sister, Bethany. So, growing up, it was me and my dad. My mom was a drug rep and was gone a lot. She was very driven. That lady would be up at 3 a.m. vacuuming! When she was gone, it was just me and my dad. So, it was Chef Boyardee homemade pizzas a lot and tacos twice a week. There’s nothing like Fruity Pebbles with Pepsi,” remembers Smiley with a smile.
She says her dad is now the taste tester, a job he sometimes struggles with, as he doesn’t like to try new things, according to Smiley. Her mom, Belinda, helped get the business ready to open, Smiley says.
“She’s the driving force. She’s the one that drops the hammer,” she explains. “And she likes to shop for gadgets.”
The catering service’s location is a small building on Carmello Avenue, a left turn from Vine Street off Stafford Drive. The cheery purple door of the quaint building opens up to Smiley’s pristine baking quarters. But the building also has sentimental meaning to Smiley. It was her Grandmother Betty’s dream.
“She was sure it was her gold mine,” says Rumburg. “Her goal at one time was to open a hot dog stand here. It’d be funny if she could see this.”
Betty, who passed away in February, made many transformations to the building over the years. It was a craft shop, a studio apartment, and even a playhouse for both Rumburg and, years later, Smiley.
“I remember playing with an old cash register in here and fake money,” recalls Smiley.
The Upper Crust has been in the works since Smiley, a 2003 graduate of Princeton Senior High School and a Bluefield State College graduate, returned home from several years in Florida.
Growing up in Princeton, she says she enjoyed eating out at local restaurants with her dad, and has fond memories of Kenny’s, Burger Boy, and Cotton’s. When she returned to Princeton, she was disappointed in the restaurant choices that remained.
“Everything we do social revolves around food, and, here, we have to categorize it–Mexican, pizza, barbecue, Chinese. We’re kind of limited. I want to use seasonal items and mix it up,” she explains.
She says she adds items to the menu that she enjoys eating herself.
“Whenever I think of home, I think of spaghetti and meatballs. I love my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs,” she says.
In addition to spaghetti and meatballs, other hearty entrees on the menu include meatloaf, chicken piccata, herb-stuffed pork loin, and rustic pot roast.
Smiley says she especially likes savory or pickled choices, such as baked pita chips with feta cheese spread, her special edamame salad with cilantro vinegar dressing, and her creamy mushroom soup with tangy brie cheese.
The business takes its name, Upper Crust, from the fresh popovers from Smiley’s oven. Offered in an assortment of delectable flavors–garlic chive, jalapeno cheddar, honey glaze, and cinnamon sugar–these light bread knots are sure to be a favorite in gift baskets.
Smiley gets emotional when she talks about the biggest reward of opening her own business.
“I want Mom and Dad to be proud,” she says. “Nana held onto this property because it meant something to her, and I want to make sure I do something good with it.”
Smiley’s future goals include adding outdoor grilling and an herb garden to her business, but her immediate goal is simply to deliver a delicious, quality product to her customers.
Smiley says her family Thanksgiving meal–roasted chipotle and maple turkey; cheesy hashbrown casserole; parmesan roasted brussels sprouts; sweet carrots; yeast rolls with honey butter; green beans with shallots, red peppers, and mushrooms; apple pie; and s’mores pie–is similar to what her business will be serving for holiday meals.
To kick off the grand opening of the Upper Crust, Smiley will be offering homemade pies. Three choices will be pre-made and ready to eat: Apple, Chocolate Pecan, and French Silk. Two choices will be assembled and will include baking instructions for homemade freshness: Peach Cobbler and S’mores. The pies are $12 each plus tax and are to be ordered by Nov. 22 and picked up on Nov. 23.
To order holiday pies for Thanksgiving or to schedule catering services, contact Upper Crust Catering at 304-920-2506. View their online catering menu at www.
buy orlistat generic orlistat without prescription online
uppercrustprinceton.com. Upper Crust is located at 139 Carmello Avenue. Look for the purple door on the left.