Article By: Samantha Cronk
Photos By: Josh Triggs
Proclaiming themselves to be Martinsburg’s best-kept secret, Kitzies Restaurant & Lounge will soon be a household name. With two restaurants already under the brand name and a third currently under renovation, restaurant manager Christi Cottle said the word is getting out on the restaurants’ quality food and atmosphere.
Two years ago, Larry Cottle, Christi’s older brother, purchased the Martinsburg restaurant, bringing Christi in as his business partner and general manager. The building that they purchased was a restaurant already named Kitzies and, in honor of the original owner, the name remained after the purchase.
“We wanted to continue that legacy of (Kitzies). A lot of people call me Ms. Kitzie because think I’m Kitzie, but I just go with it,” Christi said with a laugh.
In taking over the restaurant, Christi and her brother wanted to keep the spirit of the original establishment, but enhance certain elements to make it more “warm” and family-friendly. Since becoming the owners, the community and employees have really supported the new Kitzies, Christi said.
“I feel we’ve really been embraced by the community. We built a lot of our clientele, but we did have existing customers that remained loyal after, it was about 50/50. A lot of people who had never been here are now regulars because it’s not that rough bar feel,” Christi said. “We say we’re Martinsburg’s best-kept secret. That’s our motto.”
The secret to being Martinsburg’s best-kept secret is their menu, she said. In revamping the restaurant, the Cottle’s decided to expand what was offered and focus on becoming known for quality steak and seafood. While the crab cakes are definitely one their best sellers, the menu offers a wide range of choices from hamburgers to sandwiches, seafood dishes, salad, wraps and daily specials.
In addition to an expanded kitchen, the restaurant also offers a variety of services, including catering and hosting parties and receptions. The changes are not only limited to the kitchen. Christi and her brother have also taken opportunities to become more involved in the community.
“We’ve really been embraced by the community, and we want to make sure that we’re giving back. We’re very big about giving back to the community and to anybody or any organization that needs donations. We’re willing to give,” she said.
These changes aren’t exclusive to just the Martinsburg location. After opening the restaurant in Martinsburg about two years ago, the business was popular enough to allow the siblings to open a second location in Spring Mills. About one year ago, Christi and Larry purchased The 19th Hole and renovated into a second restaurant, also called Kitzies Restaurant & Lounge.
Christi said they chose Spring Mills for a second location due to its rapidly growing population. The newest restaurant features a relaxed atmosphere with the same focus on quality food and service. A special aspect of the Spring Mills location is its all-you-can-eat breakfast that has proven to be extremely popular, she said, usually filling up in less than two hours.
Soon, the sibling plan to expand their service area and open a third Kitzies restaurant in Berkeley County.
“We’re in the process right now of opening in Inwood, probably in about six weeks. We decided that about a month ago. We wanted to expand into the Inwood area because we have a lot of people who travel from that part of the county to eat at our other locations.
We want to continue to grow,” Christi said.
The new location will be replacing a vacant building that once housed a Mexican restaurant, located at 6584 Winchester Avenue in Inwood.
While three full-time restaurants might sound like more than a full plate to some, Christi said she and her brother are working on long-term plans that will hopefully see the franchise expanding into Morgan County and potentially Jefferson County and Maryland.
The siblings are originally from Berkeley Springs, but knew that Berkeley County was the ideal location for opening a restaurant due to its population size and growth potential. The idea to open a restaurant came more than four years ago when Larry had the opportunity to take over the Riverbend Bar and Grill in Falling Waters.
While already a business owner, this was his first entry into the restaurant business, and he asked Christi to join him as his business partner. Christi was working at a warehouse manager at the time, but said she jumped at the chance to work with her older brother.
“He asked me to come on with him and to manage the store and the restaurant down there. I just got into it. I love dealing with the public. It was definitely easier to make the jump into it to do it with family,” she said.
The Martinsburg Kitzies Restaurant & Lounge is located at 1545 Rock Cliff Drive in Martinsburg, and can be reached at 304-901-4957 or at its website, www.kitziesrestaurant.com. It is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Spring Mills restaurant is located at 5623 Williamsport Pike and can be reached at 304-274-5042 or its website, www.kitziesofspringmills.com. It is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.