MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — A rather new addition to Morgantown’s Star City, Stray Cat Chimmi Shack serves a sweet twist on tradition with its signature Mexican cuisine.
Peyton Hartmen revived “the cat” in commemoration of his father, who owned his restaurant, “Stray Cat Cafe” in Keyser, West Virginia, almost thirty years ago now. After his father had passed, the remaining Stray Cat Cafe locations fell to close, leading Peyton down his journey of keeping some of his family’s favorite traditions alive.
“It’s been six years since the last one shut down and I was in college, graduated and then I was like you know what, I miss him. I miss the chimmi. So I was like, it’s time to start. It started in a tent with a pop-up trailer three years ago and we progressed to the food trailer last year. I just bought this place and remodeled it and now we’re back on track. This is the last stray cat alive,” Hartmen said.
Peyton’s crowd-loving chimmis are prepared in an exclusive way that he wants to keep solely between him and his father, making the overall taste of the dish that much sweeter.
Last year the Stray Cat Chimmi Shack won best food truck in the state and after you’ve taken that first bite into a chimmi, you’ll understand why the title belongs to the Stray Cat. The food truly speaks for itself with new dynamic flavors and even textures on a classic comfort food that will have you stuffed.
When asked what a few of his most popular menu items were, Peyton could practically list the entirety of the menu itself.
“The chimmis for sure, it’s our popular item. Everyone loves our salads, it’s the best they’ve ever had because we have the house vinegarette—my grandma’s recipe. It’s super good and it has blackened chicken on it, that’s actually taking the cake. We have new desserts, deep-fried PB and Js, apple pies, and a Nutella stuffed with strawberries and bananas. It’s taken over too. I mean really you can’t go wrong.”
Peyton said that taking his role with the restaurant more like a lifestyle rather than a job has been his saving grace, which reflects in every aspect of the Stray Cat Cafe. Having only moved into its current location of 3417 University Ave. in March, Stray Cat Chimmi Shack has big plans in store, but Peyton gives all the credit to his father, whom he sees to be a legend as it’s the reward of the smiling faces he serves that keeps the cat alive.
Stray Cat Chimmi Shack is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and when you visit, be sure to bring your appetite.