Reporter’s note: This story is a correction to a paragraph from the A5 City Page in the Tuesday, Sept. 3 edition of The Jackson Herald. Helena’s County Cafe is still open and going strong, having recently expanded to include a coffee shop. My sincerest apologies to owners Leisa and Jim Reed.
By Barbara Layton
Helena’s Country Cafe, located at 3104 Charleston Road in Ripley, is not just a home-cooking cafe offering made from scratch recipes, but included in the log cabin with the red roof, is a bakery and a coffee shop as well.
Owners Jim and Leisa Reed, originally from Sissonville, relocated to Kenna about 10 years ago. They had previously lived in Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta, Georgia, but said they were looking for a place to raise their two daughters. With family in West Virginia, they chose Kenna as a place to settle down and plant their roots. Reed says both she and Jim have always loved Jackson County because of the farm land and it was a big part of their decision to call Jackson County home.
The Reeds opened Helena’s Country Cafe in April of 2019 and have been expanding ever since.
The inspiration behind the name came from Leisa’s grandmother, Helena. Reed said her grandmother was such an inspiration to her and her love for baking that she wanted to honor her grandmother by giving the cafe her name. Not only is her name part of the cafe, but many of the made-from-scratch dishes are those of Leisa’s grandmother.
“We have a lot of her recipes,” Reed said. “They are still in her handwriting.”
Reed said she has collected recipes since she was seven or eight-years-old and in fact, one of the recipes they use today, is in Reed’s handwriting from that time.
With the help of both daughters and a son-in-law, the Reeds have been able to make a dream become a reality.
Home country cooking is what Reed said they produce at the cafe. Along with their regular menu they offer daily specials for lunch and dinner such as turkey and dressing on Tuesday nights. Wednesday night is slow-cooked pinto beans with homemade cornbread, fried potatoes, and greens. On Thursday nights they feature made-from-scratch meatloaf with scalloped potatoes and green beans. Homemade baked steak is on the menu for Friday night with real mashed potatoes. Reed said Saturday night is grill night, steak or BBQ chicken with baked potato and salad. Sunday’s special is their country fried steak. Monday is the only day of the week they are closed.
A baker by nature, Reed has always had a goal of opening a cafe with a bakery and a coffee shop. She said she wanted to have a place that was “very unique.”
Quickly moving toward that goal, by July, The Little Bakery was added.
Some of Reed’s bakery items include homemade pepperoni rolls, peach cobbler, coconut crème pies, and made-from-scratch cupcakes to name a few.
Their fresh strawberry cupcake, which is loaded with fresh strawberries in both the cake itself and the buttercream icing, is just one of the cupcakes that Reed said is a staple item. Another cupcake that Reed said is also a great seller is their fresh apple cupcake with caramel sauce.
Reed said she has one recipe, in particular, that has been dated back to the 1860’s. It is a chocolate chip cupcake recipe with a chocolate chip cake topped with their buttercream icing and sprinkled with chocolate chips.
Other bakery items include their “peanut butter sandwich,” which consists of two peanut butter cookies filled with peanut butter buttercream then dipped in chocolate. Another creation that Reed said has been a huge success is their homemade oatmeal cookies sandwiched together by a crème filling.
“It makes the desert taste more like an oatmeal crème pie than a sandwich cookie,” Reed said.
In August, with the assistance of Andrew Dawson, a family friend who managed a coffee shop called Drew’s Brews in Sissonville, the Reeds were able to fulfill the final phase of their goal by opening The Little Coffee Shop.
Dawson believes the community will respond well to the addition of The Little Coffee Shop and said he will have loyalty cards available soon.
Reed plans to use themes for each month to coordinate the flavors used in both the bakery and coffee shop.
“September is apple month,” Reed said. “We will be celebrating apples. A lot of the stuff that’s going to be in our shop is apples. The coffee shop is doing the same thing. We have a special apple coffee that will go along with the theme. October will be pumpkin month. We will be offering a lot of pumpkin items along with our regular stuff. The coffee shop will offer a pumpkin latte, pumpkin spice latte, things like that.”
With all items being made-from-scratch, it allows Reed the opportunity to offer items to people who require a special diet. Reed said she is able to accommodate customers with certain food allergies by offering gluten-free options as well as sugar-free treats upon request.
The Reeds also support local artists by displaying and selling their products on consignment.
“We have one girl that is a college student,” Reed said. “She does freehand art on slate. It helps to pay for her school books for college.”
Other items include art on wood and canvas and candles by Ashberry candles, as well as items by WoodWinds and Blenko Glass, all created by local artisans.
“It’s all very unique, it’s like a General Store,” Reed said. “It’s all added in with the cafe, bakery, and coffee shop.”
Helena’s Country Cafe also supports veterans by offering a military discount.
Leisa, with a background in sales, marketing, and accounting, and her husband Jim with a photo journalism background, would like to eventually franchise. For now they are happy with the business they have started and excited for all the additions.
“It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of hours,” Reed said. “It’s not fast food, it’s home-cooking.”
Helena’s Country Cafe hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for The Little Bakery, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for The Little Coffee Shop, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the cafe itself. These hours are daily from Tuesday through Sunday, Monday’s closed.
For more information, visit their Facebook page at Helena’s Country Cafe.