HAZLETON — The homemade sign says “VIP Club Open” at 102 Main Street in Hazleton. The delicious food inside is all homemade, too.
The VIP Club is the new café that opened its doors last week in downtown Hazleton. With a prime location along the main thoroughfare (Highway 150), available parking, and comfortable seating inside, the VIP is destined to become a mainstay in the village at the north edge of Buchanan County.
Owner Melissa Potts and her partner Robert Ainsworth bring their love and talents for baking and cooking to the public with a delicious menu of sandwiches, soups, fresh cinnamon rolls, cakes, and pies. Everything is homecooked and fresh each day.
“We wanted to go with more healthy options, so we use an air fryer instead of a deep fryer. Healthier for our customers and grease-free for us,” Melissa said. She added that you’ve got to have some sweets, too, and she loves to bake.
Both Melissa and Robert took ServSafe manager accreditation through the Iowa State University Extension program on food preparation and safety. The clean and homey atmosphere of the café reflects their attention to detail and desire to make everyone feel welcome. An eclectic assortment of wall décor and signs keeps customers browsing while their order is prepared. There is also a pool table for those who like to shoot a game or two.
“We’ve applied for a liquor license, but wanted to get the food business going first,” Robert said. “I think that helps for people to know we are a restaurant.”
A woman of many talents, Melissa is a longtime Hazleton business owner and cosmetologist, operating The Cutting Edge for many years. She continues to run the combined salon, art studio, and boutique in the old post office space on the southwest corner of what she calls “the biggest brick building in Hazleton.”
With all the space and possibilities that the big building holds, plans are to keep the lounge separate from the restaurant, which they will do by utilizing the old bank space adjacent to the south side of the café. Robert would like to open up a portion of the wall between the VIP Club and the planned lounge sometime in the future.
For now, the couple says they are starting off small to get the business built up first. Everyone from this part of the Midwest knows a good cup of coffee is a sign of a successful café, and Melissa and Robert are off to a great start with good-tasting, fresh coffee.
The second requirement is a tasty bowl of chili. This is where Robert shows a bit of his Texas roots. His chili combines just the right amount of spices with hamburger, and plenty of other ingredients, for a great tasting chili from first bite to last.
Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and fries are always on the menu, and Tuesdays feature soft-shell tacos for a buck apiece. An outdoor sidewalk sign displays the daily specials.
The VIP Club is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. Takeout is available, and orders may be called in to 319-636-2601.
The VIP is sure to become a popular eatery for locals and travelers alike.