He managed several restaurants during his career, including the Gingerbread Man in Mechanicsburg back in the 1970s. But when he came across the magnificent, historic Boiling Springs Tavern, he knew he had found what he was looking for.
“I wanted to create a fine dining spot with a casual atmosphere,” he said. “I knew this was it.”
Located in the picturesque village of Boiling Springs, the Tavern was built in 1832 as the Boiling Springs Hotel, providing people with a meal and lodging for the night.
In the mid-1800s, it became part of the Kauffman Depot on the Underground Railroad. Men, women and children escaping slavery crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into Chambersburg and then trailed the South Mountain towards Boiling Springs. The Tavern offered these runaways shelter and protection before they headed to Carlisle.
It since has been added onto several times. A larger kitchen was built in 1863, and the dining room was expanded in the early 1950s. The last installment was the dining room overlooking the spring, which was completed in the mid-1970s.
Today, wooden chairs and tables crowd the floor with striking pictures of historical buildings, and a deer’s head rests on the mantel. Quaint artifacts are scattered throughout the restaurant, reminding guests of the Tavern’s long history.
Geoff and Debi Keith took over the Tavern in 1986, creating an award-winning restaurant that serves nearly 100 people on an average day. It is regarded as a fine dining experience, and proper dress is required.
“We maintain a high consistency and level of quality in the restaurant,” said Geoff.
The Tavern’s menu continues to evolve with the times, offering classical American dishes like New York strip steak to more adventurous fare like grilled calves liver.
The lunch menu focuses on distinctive salads such as steak and potato salad, baked salmon salad and even fried oyster Caesar salad, as well as sandwiches, which include a saga bleu burger, a Tavern grinder and smoked trout.
The dinner menu includes larger entrees such as pecan-crusted chicken, stuffed chicken and crab, veal and polenta, pasta dishes and, of course, the New York strip.
Prices range from about $7 for several lunch items to $26 for the filet mignon. The portions are plentiful, and the service is commendable. The Tavern also offers a wide range of wines such as Hogue Pinot Grigio (California), Kreusch Riesling (Germany) and Mudhouse Pinot Noir (New Zealand)—all $7.50 a glass.
But the food and history aren’t the only attractions at Boiling Springs Tavern. The setting is equally impressive.
The town of Boiling Springs was founded in the early 1750s and received its name from the artesian springs that seem to “boil” from deep underground. These springs are the largest in Pennsylvania and the third largest in the United States, producing 23 million gallons of water daily. The nearby stream, the Yellow Breeches, is a favored destination for local fishermen.
“I enjoy fishing in the Yellow Breeches and then being able to go right over to the Tavern to get a great meal,” said Ben Price of Carlisle.
Moreover, the Appalachian Trail runs right through Boiling Springs, so the Tavern plays host to visitors from all over the country and even the world.
“I especially enjoy socializing with the guests,” said Geoff, who takes part in every aspect of the restaurant, from serving to ensuring that diners are happy. “I always get to meet new people and hear their stories.”
Boiling Springs Tavern is located at 1 E. First Street, Boiling Springs. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday. Call 717-258-3614 or visit www.boilingspringstavern.net