When WVU alumni Jason Coffman and Matt Showalter took over the old Falstaff’s space on Pleasant Street in 2002, Coffman—whose family’s WVU cred goes back to a many-greats-grandfather who was an early president—asked his father, a contractor, to drop by and advise them. His father walked through the door with a grin on his face. “I lived upstairs from here in college,” he said. “I can almost guarantee you your brother was conceived upstairs.” For Coffman, it was a good omen. “We knew we had picked the right spot.”
It seems they had. Asked what has made Black Bear a five-time-running BOM favorite for Best Business Lunch, Coffman says, “foods that don’t send you back to work feeling sluggish.” Showalter credits a professional and dedicated staff. “We can get people in and out in the short time frame they have for lunch.”
That staff also explains why Black Bear dominated our new category Best Under 30 Spot. “We have a youthful concept and an extensive collection of craft beers,” Coffman says. “And the majority of our staff is under 30. We take their input on what this millennial generation likes.”
Meat lovers know Black Bear expands on its bacon, chicken, turkey, and steak options with frequent fish and pulled pork specials. But the restaurant has also won Best Vegetarian-Friendly all seven years of BOM. “We have always prided ourselves on having separate cooking surfaces,” Showalter says. “We try to respect dietary needs and train our staff to be aware what it means to be vegan or vegetarian or eat gluten-free. You might not subscribe to those ideas yourself, but I think it’s important to understand them well enough to respect somebody else’s choices.”
Coffman and Showalter are celebrating the downtown location’s February 7, 2018, 15-year anniversary with a remodel—the restaurant has new floors, fresh paint, and seating and lighting upgrades. Both restaurants will also have new menu options.
Can we call Black Bear a Morgantown icon yet? Given its longevity and popularity, Morgantown magazine says yes. — PK
132 Pleasant Street, 304.296.8696, @blackbearburritos on Facebook; 3119 University Avenue, 304.777.4867, @black.bear.evansdale on Facebook; blackbearburritos.com