COOKSBURG, Pa. (EYT) – MacBeth’s Cabins and Country Store is one of the longest standing businesses in Cook Forest, and they’ve continued to evolve over the years to serve generations of visitors.
According to Mike MacBeth, owner of MacBeth’s Cabins and Country Store, the two keys to their success have been listening to their customers and simply being located in a place as special as Cook Forest.
MacBeth’s business first opened in 1929. His great-grandfather, George MacBeth, better known as “Red,” worked at the Goodyear plant in Akron, Ohio, and saved up money to start the business. He, like several others, saw the opportunity after the Cook Forest Association worked with Governor John Stuchell Fisher to help the Commonwealth purchase 6,055 acres from A. Cook Sons Company in 1927 to create the very first Pennsylvania State Park acquired to preserve a natural landmark.
MacBeth purchased his land from the Cook family and began building.
He started his business by opening the gas station and store and then began building cabins. The cabins were built over a number of years, through the depression and the war years, with the final one finished in 1947.
In the following years, there were many changes. A gift shop was added to the store and a restaurant came and went again. Red MacBeth was followed in the business by his son, Jack, who was later followed by his son, Jim, who then handed it down to his son, Mike. Mike’s son and daughter both work at the business, too.
According to Mike, many of the guests, like the owners, are multi-generation guests.
“We have guests coming in that are fourth-generation themselves,” MacBeth told exploreClarion.com.
“They’ve stayed here upward of 70 years, over generations. It’s nice getting to know them, and to know their families. They come here and just appreciate this area. It’s great to be a part of that.”
Appreciating the area is really what it is all about, according to MacBeth.
“There’s something really special about the woods here in Cook Forest. We’d go hiking up in the Adirondacks and in the Smoky Mountains, but there’s something special about these woods here. They’re so thick and lush, even this summer with the extra rain, just seeing how gorgeous it is back there with the ferns and different trees, it’s just really special.
“There’s something about it that attracts me and attracts our guests.”
While MacBeth’s business is built around what he considers “the basics,” they have also made changes over the years to better suit the needs of visitors to the area.
The store offers a wide range of items, from basic groceries to camping supplies, fishing supplies, and items for those looking to enjoy the river.
“Anything you need, we’ll have it in here,” MacBeth said.
“We’ve been here a long time, so we know what people are looking for, traditionally, though we’re always listening for what’s next.”
After listening to guests, and considering the extras that people enjoy, MacBeths have also made some additions. MacBeth’s currently houses a wine shop, with wines from Laurel Mountain Winery in Falls Creek.
“It’s been really fun working with them. They’re coming out with new flavors and new types of wine all the time.”
According to MacBeth, the wine shop seems to appeal to many of their long-time guests, while also bringing in new visitors.
“It’s a nice experience to come in and have a couple of sips, try some different things, and really get a chance to talk with people, and talk about the area and what they’re looking for. We can sometimes tell them different things about the area, places we’ve hiked or areas they might not be aware of, maybe off the beaten path. We’ve had a lot of fun with that.”
Long-time guests have definitely discovered the appeal of the wine shop, as well.
MacBeth noted that one particular family joked about how they used to bring their kids in for ice cream, and now, 25 years later, they’re bringing their kids to the wine room to get wine for around the campfire.
“It’s just a neat family atmosphere like that, just growing with the families and changing,” he noted.
“We’re always trying to listen to people as they come in, and listen to what they’re looking for and what they need.”
Another newer addition is the expansion of the sandwich shop at the store. MacBeth’s wife, Karen, is currently in charge of the food, and the shop is offering fresh and toasted subs, as well as fresh, homemade pizza.
According to MacBeth, the combination of the food with the wine shop and the outdoor seating area behind the store has been “a real winner.”
“We have people coming out here in the evenings, grabbing a bottle of wine to just sit here with the view of the river and have a little quiet time,” he said.
“You can just come out here, grab a pizza, and sit and relax and enjoy the view.”
Another change over the years was the addition of WiFi, available in and around the store.
According to MacBeth, he discussed the possibility with his father years ago, when the internet was first becoming big, and they debated over whether or not to offer WiFi at the cabins.
“We decided not to, just to keep that as your time with your family, to keep it an escape. But, now you can come up to the store and check your Facebook and check all your social media, do a little work up here, check your email, then go back down and not have it. I think it’s been a nice mix. It’s helped out with some things without intruding.”
While MacBeth and his family plan to continue to listen to their customers and provide for their needs the best way they can, he still believes it’s the forest itself that is the real draw.
“This area just has something really special that keeps bringing people back.”