The night after John Chacko, a hardworking man about to realize his dream, purchased the Jimmy's Central Lanes bowling alley, a roiling flood ripped over the banks of the Susquehanna River and destroyed the site. As a solitary man standing amid the wreckage, it would have been easy to walk away, but that wasn't his style. Instead, he rolled up his sleeves, ripped down the walls, and pulled up the floors. Not even a nail could be salvaged, but his love for the alley was still fully intact.
Today, it's hard to believe Chacko's was once under water. New lanes run as far as the eye can see, marked by fluorescent purples and blues, and a Memory Lane Lounge offers respite with draft beer and flat-screen TVs. But Dan Chacko still remembers the deluge. Bowling-alley patrons can stop into his pro shop and pick his brain about that breathtaking flood, or they can seek his advice on bowling-related matters such as how to pick up a split or how to match your wardrobe to your bowling shoes.
While peering through the glass-covered hole in the floor of Flow Bar and Restaurant, you may catch a glimpse of a featured item on next week's menu swimming through the underground Mauch Chunk Creek. Executive chef Zachary Pelliccio—whose farm-based upbringing informs his ultra-fresh fare—procures produce and earthy high-fives from the hands of Lehigh Valley and Pocono-area farmers as well as meat, poultry, and eggs from the likes of Spring Mountain Farms of Lehighton. Pelliccio crafts starters such as a duck rillette with cranberry and green-tea preserves and large plates including a grass-fed burger on house-baked brioche, realizing the edible portion of the renovation dream of co-owners Victor Stabin and Joan Morykin. The husband-and-wife team bought the circa-1850 stone building in 2004. Temporarily trading his paintbrushes and her journalist's laptop for a hammer and nails, Stabin and Morykin and a team of artisans conducted a overhaul lasting four years. The historic space has been a wire mill, silk mill, and toy factory, and now also houses art classes and galleries featuring the work of local artists, including Stabin himself. One gallery is devoted to encouraging children's creativity and has showcased the talents of the couple's two young daughters.
Along the slopes of Blue Mountain in Little Gap Valley, Blue Mountain Resort treats visitors to a wealth of year-round activities for all ages, including some of the most thrilling skiing in Pennsylvania. Visitors can fasten on skis and snowboards to tackle dozens of snowy trails of any difficulty, including a 1,082 ft. vertical?the highest one in the state, in the winter or just go for a lift ride during the off season and take in the breathtaking views of the Poconos.
In warmer months, more than a dozen downhill biking trails and three disc golf courses await guests. The stunning mountain scenery also forms the perfect backdrop for frolicking in the woodsy wilderness during seasonal events such as Oktoberfest, the PA Blues Festival, or Blue's Brew Fest. Regardless of season, the Slopeside Pub and Grill can line up a burger and a cold beer for any peckish adventurer or yeti-in-disguise.
Mothers Bar & Grille kidnaps familiar pub cuisine and takes it on a creative joyride. Fuse the best of breakfast and barbecue with the Mothers burger ($9.99), which lands a fried egg squarely on top of a bacon cheeseburger helipad. Mothers famous wings ($7.99 for 12) arrive sweetly slathered in one of six dipping sauces, including Mothers' notorious suicide sauce. Vegetarians can take refuge in the fresh-mozzarella-and-tomato salad ($6.99), or the garlic fries ($4.99), which splash amid thick puddles of Mothers' homemade garlic sauce. Though brick walls and a lacquered wood bar sweat out classic pub ambience, Mothers is also family friendly, with a kids’ menu of five special dishes free of Lego stacked sandwiches. Under the direction of brothers Phil, Joe, Tony, and Michael Simonetta, patrons working on their synchronized chewing routines are regularly greeted by live local bands weekly, poker tournaments, and even salsa-dancing classes.
Barley Creek Brewing Company, the first microbrewery in the Poconos since the repeal of prohibition, serves up a wide range of frothy drafts, fresh wings, burgers, and seafood. The abounding menu includes the full-rack St. Louis barbecue ribs, which are dusted with signature dry rub and covered in a tangy barbeque sauce ($19.95). Sandwiches such as the Barley Creek cheesesteak, stuffed with grilled shoulder tip, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and melted american cheese ($12.95), compete with three burger varieties ($10.95 each) for stomach space. Traditionally handcrafted beers, cascade forth from the on-site 10-barrel brewhouse like red rum from a haunted elevator. Every month features a new brew, and Barley Creek always keeps at least six micros on tap, such as the bonny British Antler Brown Ale, which won a bronze from the World Beer Championship with its smooth chestnut quintessence and mildly hoppy bite.
Determined to pursue a career in the culinary arts, executive chef Evan Kechely mastered his craft in the kitchens of restaurants, country clubs, assisted-living facilities, farmers' markets, and other venues, opting to learn by doing rather than attending culinary school. His experiences shaped his ingredient-driven and sustainable approach to meals, leading him to fill Leaf's menu with farm-to-plate options built from locally sourced meats and produce. Kechely has also learned that beer and food go together as well as camping and boy-scout repellant, and his staff is able to recommend a brew for any dish on the menu. In addition to pairing suds with the various dishes, staffers can suggest premium cigars that can enhance flavor profiles. The eatery's advanced ventilation system even allows visitors to indulge in a puff without disturbing neighboring patrons or forcing them to stare at failed smoke-ring attempts.