Want to Go?
River and Rail is located at the corner of 11th Street and Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Huntington. Open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call 304-399-1247 or visit riverandrailbakery.com. NOTE: The bakery will be closed for vacation until Jan. 11.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- It's the Friday before Christmas and Lisa Williamson stands at the counter and asks what freshly baked breads are available at River and Rail Bakery.
She certainly won that day's prize for the customer who traveled the farthest. Williamson drove more than an hour from her farm in Martin County, Ky., after hearing something about a recently opened Huntington bakery on a public radio station.
"I wasn't sure where it was, so I called them yesterday: 'Where are you?!' " she recalled asking a bakery employee.
She had her arms full as she headed home with a holiday haul of three baguettes, two Moroccan olives loaves and a loaf of moist but chewy bread made from "spent" grains used in making beer.
The search for good bread will do that to you.
Kim Baker, who opened the bakery and coffeeshop last March in Huntington's revitalized Heritage Village shops beside the Ohio River, could only smile as she made ready to deliver more loaves to the counter display.
Customers like Williamson are yet more affirmation she had made the right call when she took a left turn in her life. That was when she decided not just to be named 'Baker,' but to hang out her shingle as one.
"When I started the bakery, I was looking for something to do that would be a little more fulfilling than anything I had done before except for being a stay-at-home mom, which is definitely fulfilling," said Baker, who raised three children.
After her children were grown, she worked as a lobbyist and office manager for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and the West Virginia Citizens Action Group and managed Ken Hechler's 1999-2000 run for Congress.
"So, I've been dabbling in politics for a long time. Then I got burned out -- is probably the best way to describe it. Which is very easy to do in the political realm."
She worked at Amazon.com for a while, then "semi-retired," after which she un-retired to open River and Rail. The bakery and small coffee shop is in a historic train depot building, sharing the building with the Cabell Huntington Convention and Visitor's Bureau and the Red Caboose Regional Artisan Center.
A lifelong, self-taught baker, she was inspired to open the business after attending the weekly "Chat and Chew" sessions of the group Create Huntington, Baker said.