Saving Olga's

On a bitter cold day in February, the Pennsylvania Wilds community lost one of its greatest treasures – Olga’s Gallery, Cafe & Bistro – to an electrical fire. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the owners, Olga & John Snyder, have a monumental task ahead of them to repair the historic building in downtown Coudersport, which suffered major structural damage in addition to fire, water, and smoke damage.
Olga’s has served as a vibrant gathering place for art, fellowship, and farm-to-table cuisine for the last 12 years. Thousands of stargazers, recreaters, and lovers of hometown Americana have walked into Olga’s as strangers and left feeling like friends. John & Olga meet every soul with a smile, and their contribution to the community and regional economy has been huge. Now, we have an opportunity to return the favor.
If not for John & Olga, many people’s lives, and the character of downtown Coudersport, would be very different. Olga’s has been a favorite stopping place of locals and visitors alike, some people driving five hours or more to visit again and again. Their legendary Open Mic nights celebrated local artists and nurtured new talent, including Coudersport elementary teacher Dana Daisley, who had never played music publicly until Olga’s Open Mic but now plays at venues across town.
Since moving to the United States in the late 1990s, Olga has also taught art to hundreds of students over the years, including knitting and Ukrainian egg decorating, a tradition from her native Ukraine. It was during her knitting circles, where she served complimentary coffee and tea, that Olga first got the idea to open a cafe, and she’d always admired “the corner building” in downtown Coudersport that had been around since the town’s humble beginnings during the timber boom of the 1800’s.
Once a drug store, the building had deteriorated over the years but found new life through the Rigas family, who restored the building with the help of local craftsman Brian Thomas, whose woodworking skills stunned and awed everyone who stepped inside. “You couldn’t find a single nail in the whole place,” says Olga, who always looked at the building as a work of art. The combination of Thomas’s warm woodwork and Olga’s colorful flair created an atmosphere that tickled the imagination and, as one patron put it, “makes the building feel like a big hug.”
John & Olga started the gallery cafe with the help of John’s grandmother, Lillian Herzog, who generously provided early financial support to their dream. Since then, the couple have provided more than art, drinks, atmosphere and good food – they also offer accommodations to out-of-towners, jobs, and educational opportunities to young and apprenticing farmers through the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program. The produce from Olga’s organic farm is incorporated into nearly every dish on their menu, and the bistro offers more specialty gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options than any other restaurant in the Pennsylvania Wilds region.
“What fuels us is our passion, and what gives us hope is the outpouring of concern from our community,” said Olga, who lost 24 years worth of her art in the fire. “I don’t know how we’re going to reopen – the building needs a new roof on top of interior damage. Insurance will not cover it all. But people coming to help lifts my spirits and makes me think, maybe we can do it.”
Anything you can donate will help Olga’s Gallery, Cafe & Bistro reopen and continue to serve as a source of joy and abundance for our region. And please, make sure you stop by when it does! You can also share your memories from Olga's on their Facebook page :
Let's restore a treasure of the Pennsylvania Wilds Region, known for its dark skies and natural beauty. We can't imagine this area without the magical atmosphere, amazing food, and love at Olga's!

Donations (127)

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  • Evan Weiss
    • $150 
    • 1 yr
  • Matthew Petras
    • $100 
    • 2 yrs
  • Bill and Denise Duell
    • $1,000 
    • 2 yrs
  • Helmut Dittrich
    • $25 
    • 2 yrs
  • Jane Tatlock
    • $25 
    • 2 yrs
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Melissa Troutman
Coudersport, PA
John Snyder

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