Unique local restaurants often become staples of their communities, and Black Bear Burritos is no exception.
Co-owner Jason Coffman often tells the story of how Black Bear Burritos began, starting way back from his Morgantown roots.
“I always knew I came from a long line of family members who attended and graduated from WVU,” he said. “Even family member Eli Marsh was an early president of the university.”
Coffman’s mother and father grew up in the Clarksburg area, and both ended up attending WVU together. Moving into their second year of undergrad, the couple found out they were pregnant with their first child.
Despite the adversity they faced from their families, the two got married in Oakland, Maryland. They were determined to have a child and finish school.
Coffman’s father was a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, and his brothers assisted the couple when they needed help taking care of their first son. They would babysit and change diapers, giving the couple the aid they needed to balance school and parenthood.
Years later, Coffman attended West Virginia University himself, moving away with his wife after graduation. Upon his return, he and his college roommate, Matt Showalter, decided to invest in the former bar, Fallstaff’s, and begin renovations to create the restaurant.
Coffman’s father and older brother started working together at their commercial contracting business, Phoenix Associates. His crew could not make it to the new store location to help with renovations, but Coffman sought guidance from his father when building the restaurant.
Once he was able to return to Morgantown to guide his son in the process, Coffman’s father arrived at the location, grinning knowingly. “I thought it was going to be a case of hearing my father tell me I made an irresponsible decision,” Coffman stated.
On the contrary -- rather, this building held more history for the Coffman family than he had realized. His father smiled and said, “I guarantee, your brother was conceived upstairs!”
“So while I thought that was a little bit too much information,” Coffman said, “we felt that this was a good omen, and that we had made the right decision.”
A good omen it was, since its grand opening in2003, Black Bear has broadened its horizons. It now serves at two locations, one on Downtown campus and one on Evansdale.
Both locations host local musicians for no extra cover charge. As well as music, handmade art is displayed along the walls from local artists such as Eddie Spaghetti.
Like its two locations, the restaurant has also broadened its menu. It appeals to college students and local foodies alike, expanding on the traditional Mexican style burritos, nachos, and quesadillas to include non-traditional strollers and sometimes even craft burgers.
It also prides itself on providing vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. “We like to let people know that we have two separate grills, and one of them is specifically for vegetarian options,” said Coffman.
With its prime location in the heart of Mountaineer Country, Black Bear Burritos also offers Mountaineer Maniac Mondays. Just provide a WVU sports ticket stub to order any “Special Guest” menu item for only $6.
Black Bear Burritos has become so much more than just a local restaurant. It has become a place for innovative food creation, somewhere to explore local craft brews, and a place where local art, both visual and musical, can be celebrated.