BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — Rebecca Zupanick and her husband, Joseph, have loved the old house at 600 South Oakwood Avenue for years.
Once a lavish Victorian home, the space has spent time as a bridal and formal gown shop, a physical therapy clinic and a real estate office.
The Zupanicks bought the building late last year and have given it a new life, as a picturesque bistro restaurant called Dobra Zupas.
Rebecca Zupanick never thought she would be in the restaurant business. She met Joseph at West Virginia University Institute of Technology in the engineering program and worked in the mining industries for nearly 20 years before taking time off to raise a family.
But then the couple started talking about having their own restaurant. She took culinary classes at Mountain State University and opened up a location on 105 3rd Avenue where they started catering and serving lunch.
She didn't want to stop there, however.
"We wanted to expand into dinner and offer a full-service bar," she said.
"We try to make this a really great environment for lunch and dining in general. It's been my project in getting the restaurant up and running, but I've had a lot of help from my family."
She said both of her children, Emily, 25, and Joseph, 20, were involved with helping choose the artwork and original concepts for the restaurant.
They wanted to highlight the historic Victorian elements of the house, such as the 12-inch crown molding and original oak, while introducing modern elements as well.
"We have tried to stay with the Victorian architecture as closely as possible. We've got a few pops of contemporary fixtures but we still try to make it real comfortable and really kind of homey because it is an old house," she said.
"Joe and I wanted to stay true to that era and I think we've done a pretty good job in introducing some contemporary things but you also get a feel for the old Victorian architecture."
Zupanick also made sure the menu matched the restaurant's cozy atmosphere. The staff at Dobra Zupas takes pride in making their food from scratch, including a wide-variety of bistro items including soups, sandwiches and salads for lunch and entrees including pasta, steak and seafood items for dinner.
"All of our dishes we bring in raw product and make. We are pretty proud of that because it's more labor-intensive but we are trying to bring out that flavor with the freshest ingredients," she said.
Their best-selling lunch items such as the Blue Turkey sandwich and the Zupa's Club sandwich are made with the freshest ingredients including freshly baked breads.
In fact, Zupanick said 95 percent of the breads they feature on their menu are made from scratch.
The restaurant also is known for its selection of craft and difficult-to-find beers.
Steve Redden, the bar manager and brewer for Dobra Zupas, said they have 11 beers on tap and nearly 40 varieties available in bottles.
"We try to specialize in things you won't get anywhere else (including) a lot of imperial styles and aged stouts," he said.
Redden said he hopes to bring craft beer back to Beckley.
"The beers I want in West Virginia aren't available and I like eccentric, explosive tastes," he said.
Zupanick said she likes being able to offer customers both high quality food and high quality beer. That's why she is now in the process of remodeling a structure near the house into Dobra Zupas very own brewpub.
She hopes to debut the restaurant's first beer at the end of September.
"I think making a restaurant in a house is really cool. If someone wants to come out for a quiet dinner we have that, but if someone wants to come out with a family we are family-friendly as well," she said. "We offer things to both groups."
Dobra Zupas also offers private dinner rooms for meetings and parties. Call 304-253-9872 for more information.
Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, http://www.charlestondailymail.com