42 N. Conococheague Street
Williamsport, MD 21795
"There are tourists and there are travelers. Tourists go somewhere new to see how others live, travelers go somewhere new to experience how others live."
Below are are some comments from some of our new and old friends. We love searching the internet and finding these little comments buried deep in a traveler's story or blog.
A WHAG TV Story - to view the whole story be sure to click on the link at the end!
WILLIAMSPORT, MD - Starting your own business isn't the easiest thing to do, but one woman is seeing her customers roll in because of a few modifications the Town of Williamsport made.
Bicyclists ride in from a long day along the C&O Canal, looking for a good place to eat and rest.
At the Rose Cafe in Williamsport, bikers like Kenna Libes and her father get the fuel they need to up their energy.
"We serve healthy, vegetarian options, more food that the trail people like to eat," explains cafe owner Rose Harris.
Harris says business wouldn't be as good if it wasn't for a few metal bars placed outside her cafe. A few weeks ago, the Town of Williamsport installed bike racks.
"It gives them an incentive to stop, park, and walk around," Harris says. "And they feel like their bikes are safer there than being up against a wall."
Libes agrees, "The bike rack certainly increased the possiblities that we would have stopped."
Now, bikers who have "racked on" dozens of miles across the C&O Canal Trail have a place to "park."
The cafe also becomes a place to exchange information and get advice from the locals on where to stay. Plus, bikers say the racks make them feel welcome.
"You know they're going to refill your water bottle without giving you a frown," says Dennis O'Neill, a biker from Ohio.
It cost about $1,000 to install the four bike racks, and the town hopes to include more in the future.
David Goodwich stopped by on May 2, 2011 - the day we opened the new Cafe. He is going crosscountry on bike to celebrate retirement. He wrote this in his "crazy guy on a bike" blog:
"A lunch at the magical Desert Rose Cafe in Williamsport. They had just opened their new location, and the people were warm, as was the coffee. A real find for cyclists coming off the Canal."
(We have had a couple of these "Crazy guy on a bike" folks. It is a great blog site - fun reading material even if you are not a biker/hiker!)
Found the following comments on Yelp - Thanks friends!:
It was a cold and rainy day when we rolled into Williamsport, on a bike trip on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trails from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. Boy were we glad to find the Desert Rose Cafe, owned and operated by (Desert) Rose Harris. There were a bunch of other wet cyclists already huddled inside, along with an ever-changing cast of local characters. Rose welcomed us like long-lost friends, and the food on her menu (sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts, etc.) was all interesting, healthy and delicious. The menu had several tempting vegetarian and vegan options, which was music to our stomachs. Rose really loves her little business -- or at least she puts on a good show of it! The cafe is small enough that Rose can talk with all of the patrons in the cafe at once while she works, so there is a non-stop communal banter going on, which made for a wonderfully friendly atmosphere for the weary travelers that we were. We liked the Desert Rose Cafe so much that we decided to cut our day of bicycling in the rain short and stay overnight in Williamsport, so that we could come back for an early dinner at the cafe (Rose closes at 6 PM, more or less). I agree with the first reviewer that the Desert Rose Cafe is not to be missed if you are passing through Williamsport - Matt and Rita C. - June 2010
This is a must stop for any C&O canal rider. This is a wonderful little sandwich shop. Rose is so nice and friendly. She has all the extra covered. This is a slice of Americana that touring the C&O is all about. -- Rob B, Pittsburgh Sept. 2009
You really have a great thing going in Williamsport, which is a credit to you and your mother, and to your wonderful all embracing personality and efflorescent energy. My brothers and I met Ron Aldom/Chamber of Commerce Director on the street after we left your Cafe, and of course he is just another member of your ever expanding fandom. I am sure you will be more than successful with your planned expansion of your Cafe, as well as with your long ranged plans of taking over the whole street/town/state/etc:). ..... We have met so many genuinely warm/friendly people in the past 2yrs, and karma willing, we plan on seeing you et al for more years to come. Say hello to your friend/John, who we met sitting at your counter, and take good care of yourself and my boy:).
"In a few hours I came to Williamsport. It was a decent city with a great little restaurant, The Desert Rose. I read an article about in and wanted to visit. http://www.herald-mail.com/?cmd=displaystory&story_id=195171&format=html
It is a quaint little café that serves all types of soups, sandwiches, vegan meals etc. The owner/cook/waitress/hostess is a wonderful young lady. I came into the place, sweating like a pig, overheated and she looks me in the eye and asks "you want a cup of hot coffee and bowl of soup?". I busted out laughing. I wasn't hungry since I had a double carb lunch at Weavers so she packed it go and stuffed it full of lettuce and offered a baggy of ice. Nice touch. She also had a good selection of fruit, snacks and drinks. I bought a bunch of stuff for breakfast. Try and support this place, the Byers market across the street went out of business. I continued down the beloved towpath stopping at one of the landings to take another dip and eat. The bugs ate me while I ate the meal, which was delicious especially the salty pickles." http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BikeWashingtonDC/message/11290
"We ended up going to a coffee shop called the Desert Rose Cafe that had a very kind owner who made us some tasty food and took care of us while we were there. If you take the trip there, I highly recommend stopping there, she was incredibly cyclist friendly and just all-around good people. We re-filled our water bottles and went across the street to a bike shop (River City Cycles), where I got another tire tube, just in case."
It’s a good thing I didn’t get to Williamsport last night. Twenty-five miles from Hancock to Williamsport made the timing perfect for lunch at Desert Rose Cafe, the kind of place I think every town should have. Rose, the owner, really knows how to feed a traveler, and the “regulars” keep a lively, warm environment. Rose is trying to find room for an ice cream freezer and more seating, but I don’t expect it to stop there. I imagine the next time I stop through Williamsport, she’ll have an all-out diner on her hands."
"... After all that we went to a small deli called the Desert Rose Cafe for lunch in Williamsort. It's a wonderful place with great food and less than a 5 min walk from the canal towpath and well worth the time. It opens at 8 am and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, desserts, coffee drinks, etc. The address is 21 North Conocoheague St. (pronounced Con-o-co-jig). Go up Potomac St. from the Visitors Center to the first light and go right, which is Conocoheague St. It's about a half a block up on the left. ..."
"...At that point I went into Williamsport and found an awesome sandwich and coffee shop. I had an amazing seafood salad and coffee. For other hikers, this place is right off Potomac St and Conocoheague! The restaurant is called Desert Rose Cafe. They have awesome resupply items like trail bars, fresh fruit, and lots of veggie options. These two events turned my mood and day around. I'm now in shorts and a tee...full of fresh salad and coffee, apple juice. And I have an apple, orange and two trail bars to supplement my stash. Back to the trail! ..." http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=225773
You have great food. I stopped by your cafe last month on opening day. We were probably the last riders to stop by before the big rain storm hit. The food was awesome and I've been telling everyone that they should stop there.
We have a big cycling tour coming through the trail this fall. We'll have a caterer this year, but maybe next year I'll be talking to you about catering an evening for the group. The Desert Rose food is so healthy and tasty, just what cyclists appreciate. Just wanted to let you know that you're cafe is appreciated and I'm looking forward to another hummus and veggie sandwich.
ps. here's the link to our bike tour if you know anyone who's interested in joining
Hey Desert Rose! I'm Tom, one of the cyclists who ate at the cafe on Saturday. What a treat it was to find such yummy, healthy food during our ride to Penn. Even better was stumbling upon someone so fun and with whom I immediately felt so comfortable and open. You are a real treat for a weary traveller! I suspect that with the warm friendliness and tasty treats provided by you, your mother, and her friend, your cafe will thrive. I certainly hope so...
All the best to you and the whole gang,
Rose, you won both the stomachs and the hearts of the six bikers from Pittsburgh, on Sunday 18 May. We loved your food and we loved you. In my diary, which I am just touching up today, I call you the Siren to Ulysses, to whom we would gladly have succumbed had duty not sternly called us on to Washington.
Williamsport, MD is a great town to visit. Come and see for yourself.
A trip to Williamsport must include a visit to the C&O Canal National Historic Park Visitor's Center. Be sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes or a bike!
The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) rail-trail offers 150 miles of hiking and biking between Cumberland, MD, and Pittsburgh, PA. In Cumberland, the GAP joins the C&O Canal Towpath, creating a continuous 335 mile long trail experience to Washington, DC.
C&O Canal Trust is a great organization whose mission is to work in partnership with the National Park Service to protect, restore and promote the C&O Canal.
For information on upcoming trips or what you can expect while biking the Canal visit Bike Washington for updates.
There is a great bike tour of Washington County/ Cumberland Valley that begins and ends in Williamsport as well as several other bike tours noted by Trimble Outdoors (and they even recommend eating at the Desert Rose Cafe!).
Need some new bike equipment or repairs? Be sure to stop by the River City Cycles - just down the street from the Desert Rose Café so come get a smoothie while waiting for the repairs to get finished!
Need a quick gift or just looking for some hand-crafted candles or soaps, we carry Canal View Candles & Soaps in the cafe.
Kipe's Upholstery Shop has been a family run business for about thirty years. At this shop every job is done as though it were for a friend!
Hagerstown BMX is soooo much fun! Come see the excitemt unfold.
And, for your real estate needs in Washington or Frederick County, you may want to check out Agent Grace.
There are no strangers, only friends that we have not yet met!