By Sarah Mansheim
When Hill and Holler bike shop owner, Merrick Tracey, and Chef Todd Wagner met, they immediately knew they shared a passion for mountain biking and great food. Now, they have joined forces, bringing a fresh and delicious menu into the Hill and Holler fold.
“I always wanted to do a bike shop/coffee shop/ale house type thing,” says Tracey, who moved Hill and Holler from downtown Lewisburg’s Washington Street to the old Fort Savannah on Rt. 219. The building was recently renovated with a brand-new commercial kitchen, and now, Wagner has moved in a new kitchen crew and is making some fantastic food.
The menu heavily features wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, made with fresh dough and local ingredients including house-made fennel sausage, capacola and ham (the pork is provided by Rainbow’s End Farm and local farmer Jason Lewis, and smoked and cured onsite) and Bootstraps Farm tomatoes hot pepper flakes. Rounding out the menu is Wagner’s Caesar salad with Rainbow Farm chicken, garden and Caprese salads with greens from Standing Stone Farm, and pulled pork, chicken and Cuban sandwiches.
There are chef specials every day; every now and then, customers can even get one of Wagner’s famous crab cake sandwiches, the signature Wolf Creek Gallery treat at Taste of our Towns.
Tracey is especially proud of the pizza – it is sophisticated enough to please the most worldly palate, and yet, kids love it, too. The wood-fired brick oven bakes the pies at 800 degrees for two-to-two and a half minutes, bringing the dough, proofed for three days for flavor, to a perfect finish.
Hill and Holler also serves Sweet Things ice cream, handmade in Lexington, VA, and local beers including Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company, Charleston Brewing Company and various Virginia brews. They also offer a full slate of Smooth Ambler Spirits.
“We also have 24-ounce cans of Coors and Modelo for the hardcore mountain bikers,” says Tracey, with a smile.
In fact, for bike enthusiasts and casual riders alike, Hill and Holler remains the premier bike shop, offering bicycle sales, rentals and repairs, and a full skateboard shop.
“We’re the only West Virginia skate shop listed in Thrasher,” says Tracey of the iconic skateboard magazine. Hill and Holler is also an exclusive dealer for Santa Cruz bicycles in West Virginia.
Tracey grew up working in bike shops, and after becoming a school teacher, continued repairing them during the summers. He launched Hill and Holler in 2011, bringing the only bicycle dealer and repair shop to Greenbrier County. He also serves on the Lewisburg Parks Committee and heads up a volunteer-based trail building program in the Greenbrier National Forest, bringing all levels of mountain biking trails to local riders and tourists alike.
He also loves music. Over the years, Tracey hosted several after-hours DJ nights at Hill and Holler’s old location, and realized that music and bikes fit together pretty nicely.
Now, in the new space, that is continuing. Most days during lunch, customers will hear a diverse soundtrack of all-over-the-place jams from punk rock to reggae to bluegrass. Hill and Holler has hosted several live bands recently, including Bryan Elijah Smith and the Wild Hearts, Kim Logan, and local band, Snake Doctor. On Friday, Aug. 7, area favorite, Lawless Brown, is set to play.
Tracey says he hopes to have at least one live band a month, and bring back DJ nights (which can also happen spontaneously). All kinds of live music will be featured: singer-songwriters, country, bluegrass, rock.
“Just, everything,” says Tracey. He mentions that beginning next month, through a partnership with Carnegie Hall, Hill and Holler will begin hosting square dances in September.
That eclectic mix of food, bikes, skateboards and music is giving Tracey what he always wished for – a community-based bike shop where everyone from BMX riders to well-heeled retirees can grab a bite, relax, and have a good time. And, with Wagner in the kitchen, they are all guaranteed to eat well.