“I love meeting new people. I like to make them happy. Since we live on the property, we’re here all the time for our guests in case they need something. I can’t believe the people that come here. How do they find this little, tiny place in the middle of nowhere?”
“I originally started out as an artist. I drew from a very young age. I went to Chatham College. Westinghouse hired me to be their Corporate Art Curator, then Gallatin Bank hired me to do the same thing. Eventually I stepped down from that job because it took me away from home and my husband was having health problems at the time.
“I also loved to cook and would have guests over to our house for various holidays. Everyone loved my food. I began cooking at the age of 11. My grandmother Lenora, who I’m named after, taught me because my mother was a terrible cook. Her food was inedible, and I refused to eat it. Every Saturday I would be with grandma. I learned to make everything she made. I still have her cookbook. It was given to me because I did the most cooking with her out of all the grandkids.
“During one of our holiday dinners a gentleman, Richard Smeltz, told me I should go to chef’s school. I was 39 or 40 at the time. So I went to Westmoreland County Community College. Then I worked at Nemacolin Woodlands as a chef’s apprentice. I was there three years. The chefs were brilliant. I loved everyone I worked with, but I didn’t like being away from my husband and children during the holidays. The same gentleman that told me to go to chef school said: ‘You should open a restaurant now.’ So my husband decided that would be a good idea.
“In 1992 we opened with just four tables in our living room and four in our dining room. We moved to the second floor of the building that was our home. In ‘97 we decided to make a bigger kitchen and enclose our porch because we were getting requests for wedding rehearsal dinners. Then we started getting a lot more business meetings. One winter evening we had people from Pittsburgh eating dinner. They asked me if we had any rooms upstairs. I said: ‘Yes. We have rooms up there.’ They asked how many and I said: ‘Eight.’ Then they asked how much they cost. I had no idea what they were talking about. I said: ‘We live up there!’ That’s when I realized people wanted to stay here. That was in 1998. My husband and son began building the addition and in 2000 we opened The Inn at Lenora’s. People love it here because it’s just up the road from the Great Allegheny Passage. We have food, quality rooms and a large porch with rocking chairs where groups can sit.
“I used to work in the kitchen alone. When my husband retired, he decided to help. It’s just the two of us. It almost worked. We had to put in a sound-proof door leading to the kitchen. Some of our guests laugh when they overhear our Iively conversations.
“I love meeting new people. I like to make them happy. Since we live on the property, we’re here all the time for our guests in case they need something. I can’t believe the people that come here. How do they find this little, tiny place in the middle of nowhere? One night we had a group that didn’t get here till 10 o’clock at night. They called and said they were lost. I said: ‘you know what? I’ll be out on the street. I’ll have a candle.’ That was before we had streetlights. It was so dark, even though we had our lights on in the building. They were so appreciative. I had cookies for them. They were from Google.”
This content was created by Anita Harnish for the Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy and financed through grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, through its Community Conservation Partnerships Program and Environmental Stewardship Fund, administered by Rivers of Steel Heritage Area and Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Laurel Highlands Mini Grant Program; through funding via the Westmoreland, Fayette, and Somerset County Tourism Grant Programs; and with funds made available by the Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy.