by Kim Soles
The Cedars House, now approaching its two-year anniversary at 200 Northwestern Ave. in Wissahickon Park, was fastidiously transformed into a charming café by Ricki Gever Eisenstein and her husband, Andrew.
The house, owned by The City of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department, was reconditioned by the Eisensteins as they adhered to historical guidelines restoring original windows, front porch and matching exterior paint colors. The Cedars House is surrounded by slender cedar pines, and a poetic Japanese maple tree welcomes those who enter the side door of the café.
Ricki, a devoted runner, had a vision to turn the house into a woodsy eatery that would cater to runners and park users. Beyond offering breakfast options, home-made soups, quiche and sandwiches that satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike, the café offers sweet and salty treats, healthy smoothies and other goodies for the occasional and daily park user.
The adage of Cedars House is “Eat, Train, Run.” Thus, Eisenstein took the initiative to create a community of passionate outdoor fitness enthusiasts and implemented group running classes, workshops, personal training and private coaching. “I support people of all ages using the park more often,” said Ricki, “and I wanted to create a place where runners, walkers, bikers and those who want to be in nature would meet and share their enthusiasm,”
The “Couch to 5K” runners program was initiated to help those who need the motivation and a plan to begin a routine to reach their running and wellness goals. Healthy coaching and personal training services are also offered by Amanda Schlitzer, who provides consultations at no charge to see if coaching may be the right fit.
Early morning, spring and summer yoga classes meet at Cedars and meander to lush Harpers Meadow, a short walk away. Cedars House also offers massage services.
Over the past two years in business, Ricki has observed how the Cedars House is best utilized and realized early on, that at times, Mother Nature determines restaurant hours. Joining their Facebook page is a way to get updates on daily schedules and stay in touch. Lockers situated in the front entry, free of charge, offer a way for park users to keep wallets or small items safe while using the trails. The Cedars House is also available to rent for various occasions.
In addition, Wissahickon Wellness, a fitness program offered by Ricki will combine strengthening exercises with a light cardio workout to achieve fitness goals. The class will be held outdoor, weather permitting.
The Eisensteins had the passion to embrace the little house that once stood in desperate need of repair and create a community-based hub along Forbidden Drive. For more information, visit www.thecedarshouse.com or call 215-242-3121.
Ed. Note: Kim Soles, a Mt. Airy resident and lifelong nature photographer, will operate the Indigo Nature Arts program at The Cedars House, beginning this spring, including a day camp for small children. Morning and afternoon classes will continue on an ongoing basis for pre-schoolers and home-schooled children throughout the seasons.