Surprising Finds Around Unionville
The Southern Chester County town boasts a charming network of shops.
The village of Unionville is well known to foxhunters heading toward Cheshire hunt country. Just three miles north of Kennett Square, its downtown has retained its 19th-century ambience.
This Chester County gem also has some delightful surprises—places that are easy to miss while driving by on Route 82. A world-class furniture maker, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor where you can play badminton or bocce, a place for antique car restoration, a fine-dining restaurant housed in a former general store, a popular barbecue, a park with walking trails—all this and more can be found along the brick sidewalks of the village’s main street.
Unionville native Doug Mooberry has made his hometown a destination for those seeking fine hand-crafted furniture. Kinloch Woodworking is housed in an 1890 brick house, with two stories of inventory on display. Out back is a spacious shop that accommodates five full-time custom woodworkers. “Kinloch is a group of really gifted cabinet makers,” says Mooberry. “But what’s special with Kinloch is the wood we have.”
He points to a contemporary sideboard made of contrasting dark-and-light bubinga wood from the African Congo. “That came from a 500-year-old tree,” he says. “The log was eight feet in diameter.”
Mooberry sources rare and exotic woods from all over the world—but it’s always a gamble. “When you buy a log, you have no idea what’s going to be inside,” he says.
While interest in contemporary furniture is growing, Kinloch is best known for traditional pieces. “We take a design and make it our own,” Mooberry says.
A perfect example is the secretary desk inspired by an 18th-century design, crafted of beautiful crotch mahogany with carved shell motifs. Ingeniously hidden inside are a number of small compartments. “Everybody loves a secret drawer,” he says.
Mooberry has been here for almost 30 years—and he’s attracted a worldwide clientele. “It’s a neat little town, and it’s certainly going in the right direction,” he says, pointing to the new 20-acre Unionville Community Park across the street as an example.
Separated from Kinloch by a spacious yard shaded by a 100-year-old American elm is Foxy Loxy, an ice cream parlor housed in a charming 19th-century brick house. Owner Jerry Brown was looking to create a place for people to get ice cream, relax with a coffee, and play games in the summertime. And he wanted it to have a foxhunting theme. “My wife was a great foxhunter,” says Brown of his late wife, Cookie. “Part of this was done in her memory.”
Foxhunting memorabilia is on display everywhere—a hunting jacket and tall leather boots, a hand-drawn map of Cheshire hunt country. Shelves are lined with sporting guides and old field books with handwritten entries by legendary master of foxhounds Nancy Hannum.
After ordering ice cream or sandwiches at the counter, winter customers can relax by the fireplace on comfortable mission-style furniture. In the summer, the patio is the draw. “I was looking for a big chunk of outdoor space because I wanted to have games,” says the 77-year-old Brown, a retired architect. “We have badminton, horseshoes, bocce and croquet.”
Brown, who also runs an ice cream parlor in Vermont, says he hopes to raise awareness about how area horse owners have been a force in keeping the pristine land to the west open for foxhunting. “That’s what drives this area, and Unionville is a big part of that,” he says.
But mostly, he wants Foxy Loxy to be a fun place to go. “People are always cheerful when they buy ice cream,” Brown says with a smile.
Just up the hill on Cemetery Lane is the aptly-named Last Chance Garage. Antique and classic automobiles, vintage sports cars, and station wagons and iconic vehicles from the ’50s are brought here for a new lease on life. Getting them up and running is what Lou Mandich and his three-man team are known for. “We get cars that have sat for a long time. Sitting is very hard on a car,” says Mandich, pointing to a now-revived Buick that had been parked since 1963.
A graduate of Unionville High School, Mandich taught English in Coatesville for more than 30 years. He ran a side business on the weekends delivering coal and mushroom soil. In 1980, he bought the former stable and adjacent garage. He retired from teaching in 1999 and devoted himself to servicing and restoring vintage cars.
“My forte is older cars,” Mandich says. “I’m not a real mechanic, but I can manage to keep the old ones running.”
His library of car manuals goes back to 1910. His team can handle anything built between 1905 and 1985, be it replacing a light bulb or a complete overhaul.
What do old cars have that new cars don’t? “Personality,” says Mandich without hesitation. Like most of his customers, he is devoted to his own cars and can often be seen in area parades driving his 1918 hunter-green Buick touring car or his Model A Ford Phaeton.
Despite being tucked away off the main street, Mandich’s business has attracted a loyal following from all over the Mid-Atlantic region. “I’ve lived here practically my whole life—it’s a great location,” Mandich says. “It’s just a really nice little town,”
Unionville’s main street is lined with well-tended brick and frame houses. Formerly known as Jacksonville, it once was a self-sufficient village with shops supplying residents’ every need. One of the oldest businesses is the Unionville Saddle Shop, a small white-brick building selling horse tack and supplies to local foxhunters and horse farms.
Just beyond the saddlery at the edge of town are two well-known Unionville restaurants: Catherine’s at the corner of Route 162, and a bit farther west, Hood’s BBQ.
Operating out of a former general store, Catherine’s has become a destination restaurant with a loyal following. Husband-and-wife owners Kevin McMunn and Marybeth Brown moved their BYOB here in 2003 from a location outside of West Chester.
Chef McMunn’s focus is on new American cuisine, with inventive dishes like wild mushroom soup with lump crab meat. The high-ceilinged space has a vintage look that is especially inviting when lit by candles for dinner, and the charming country setting
also draws people here for more casual lunches and Sunday brunch. The rear patio garden is the place to be in nice weather.
Just beyond the edge of town is Hood’s BBQ, a family-run restaurant that’s popular with everyone from foxhunters to farmers to barbecue devotees. The Hood family has lived in the Unionville area for 300 years and owned a large poultry farm before opening this small spot in 2006.
Today the younger generation, Larry Hood III and his sister, Morgan, are running the restaurant, which was renovated and expanded in 2015. “My father would do chicken barbecues for the family and at the Longwood firehouse, and it just grew from there,” says Larry. “Our customers have been with us for years and years.”
Aside from the signature Hoodie pulled-pork sandwich, the menu offers ribs and chicken made with their grandmother’s recipe. A buffalo head mounted on the wall came from a nearby ranch that supplies
meat for the buffalo burgers served on Friday nights. It’s another reminder of the agrarian heritage Unionville residents hope to maintain for future generations.
Kinloch Woodworking: kinlochwoodworking.com
Foxy Loxy: Facebook.com/FoxyLoxyLLC
Last Chance Garage: lastchancegarage.net
Catherine’s Restaurant: catherinesrestaurant.com
Hood’s BBQ: hoodsbbq.com
Unionville Saddle Shop: (610) 347-2320