Iron Horse Coffee Shop Brings Life Back to Willard’s Train Station
Vanessa Founds and Molly Founds are co-owners of Willard’s newest coffee shop, the Iron Horse. Vanessa’s brother, Andrew Founds, is the head chef.
“We opened up an old train station and we’re trying to bring life back to the community here and just serve wholesome food by sourcing as much local products as we can,” Vanessa said.
Vanessa calls the operation small, but since opening day, the cafe has made a significant impact on the surrounding community: the duo has even named one of their drinks after a local resident.
“Woody is one of our neighbors, he lives right around the corner. He’s 8-years-old and he goes to Willards Elementary School. Woody came with his mom and rolled his window down and he shouted out to me, ‘Excuse me, are you gonna sell hot chocolate?’ And I said, ‘Of course we are,’ and I introduced myself and asked him what his name was and the rest is history.”
Vanessa says Woody is at the cafe every day, becoming somewhat of an ambassador for the Iron Horse. He comes in and enjoys “Woody’s Hot Chocolate” on a daily basis. Woody isn’t the only one.
“We’ve had a lot of people come out to support us so far, only being open a month,” Vanessa said. “It’s really neat because in the mornings we have a lot of guys come in and they meet each other here or we have ladies that come and have lunch together. It’s a good meeting point for people that live in Salisbury or Ocean City or Delaware…kind of destination dining so to speak.”
Iron Horse is known for its “soon to be famous” muffins, corn bread, biscuits and cinnamon rolls. All of its baked goods are made in-house and complement the coffee shop’s significant assortment of coffee drinks. Iron Horse offers a daily blend, grinds coffee to order and carries a variety of cappuccinos.
Part of the coffee shop’s business plan is to keep it local. The business works with Crack of Dawn in Berlin, Md., Eastern Shore Coffee in Salisbury, Md., Red Rooster in Floyd, Va., all small operations on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Ever heard of the saying big things come in small packages? The Iron Horse is a whopping 420-square-feet and the walls are filled with local art. You can enjoy these local products at the cafe while checking out art work from local artists including Tyler Layton, Ocean City photographer, and Patty Backer and Ashley Brown from Berlin.
“The kitchen is about 9 x 9, it’s very tiny so every square inch was extremely crucial; we made it just by a few inches to get all of our equipment in there,” Vanessa said.
The owners of the Iron Horse say the establishment wouldn’t be what it is today without the help of Chris Walsh from Walsh Construction who helped raise the ceilings, put in new flooring, windows, doors, a deck and ramp.
As the weather warms, Vanessa hopes to see more customers sitting on the deck and utilizing the outdoor space. Once the business owners open the deck outside, the seating for the cafe will double.
“I feel since we are close to being right off Route 50, when people are coming to or from the beach, from Baltimore or wherever they are coming from, they should stop here. You know, it’s about an eighth of a mile off the highway.”
Wondering what to order? Vanessa says the carnitas tacos are a crowd favorite. The pork is braised in house and served with corn tortillas, fresh homemade pico de gallo, shaved radish, cilantro and lime accompanied with rice and beans.
If you’re mouth isn’t watering yet, check out the Iron Horse—a shaved beef sandwich, combining the likes of a cheese steak and a french dip. The sandwich has peppers and onions, provolone cheese and is served on an amoroso sub roll. The newest addition to the menu is the cuban—pork, swiss, mustard and pickles on an amoroso roll.
All of Iron Horse’s salad dressings are made in-house. If you’re a salad and soup kind of diner, check out one of the featured soups, made fresh every day.
“Just putting life back into this building I think is very important to a lot of people. Between the post office, the banks, the fire house, the elementary school, the insurance agency and the lumber yard right across the street we get a lot of take out orders.”
Iron Horse will hold a ribbon cutting and grand opening this May. Woody is going to cut the ribbon with the help of Steve Warren, a Willard’s local. The deck with be unveiled and the cafe will begin to open up on Sunday for brunch.
Iron Horse is open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-2 p.m. To stay up to date on the latest specials, follow Iron Horse on Instagram and Facebook. Stay tuned for information on the shop’s Easter Egg Hunt, Saturday, March 26!