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W.Va. town profits from a media feeding frenzy

January 05, 2000

Reuters journalistsBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Having 600 or 700 people in town for the peace talks between Israel and Syria has boosted business at local restaurants.

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Downtown restaurants have dished up chow for journalists, and the occasional dignitary, who make their way into the shopping area in the evening after the talks wind down.

The upscale Yellow Brick Bank has been serving about 150 meals a day, which is excellent for January, said Chef Mike Luksa.


Luksa said the restaurant is usually "crying" this time of the year because business drops off.

"It's just been growing. Each day just gets busier," Luksa said.

Restaurant owner Kevin Connell has been adding extra ambiance by having a jazz pianist perform through the evening, Luksa said.

"A lot of people are coming out late. We're keeping the kitchen open much later," Luksa said.

Although business has been brisk at Ed's Tap Room and Deli, employee Ian Paugh said he thought dignitaries and journalists would rush downtown quicker than they have.

Paugh said he figures more people will make it downtown as they settle in and begin to discover the area during down time from the talks.

Ed's Tap Room and Deli has been filling take-out orders from journalists working at Shepherd College's Butcher Center. The deli has been preparing about 50 food orders a day and taking them up to the basketball complex, Paugh said.

"I haven't seen Tom Brokaw or anything. Personally, I haven't seen any of the dignitaries. As far as I can see, they are fairly holed up in their motels," Paugh said.

But some have been spotted.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and U.S. State Department spokesman James P. Rubin were among a party of nine people who dined at the Yellow Brick Bank Tuesday night.

On Wednesday morning, Albright had breakfast at the Pharmacy Cafe on German Street, employee Melissa Johnson said.

After eating breakfast, Albright agreed to have her photograph taken with restaurant workers, Johnson said.

Albright, accompanied by several U.S. Secret Service agents, then walked to the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center about a half mile away on W.Va. 480, police said.

Preparing meals for Israeli dignitaries involved in the peace talks has required special preparation. Chefs from the Bavarian Inn were sent to the Clarion to help prepare kosher meals, and a deli from Wheaton, Md., has been sending in food daily, according to local and State Department officials.

Several restaurant owners interviewed said they did not try to change their menus in an attempt to attract the different ethnic groups.

Paugh said he figured it would be difficult for the deli to try to prepare foods preferred by Israelis or Syrians.

President Clinton did not attend the third day of talks Wednesday, State Department officials said.

Talks are being held at the Clarion and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's National Conservation Training Center, and cars continued to stream in and out of the two locations throughout the day Wednesday.

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