Fairmont’s Joe N’ Throw Co-op is a hangout spot you’ll find difficult to leave.
It’s a popular joke among regulars that you can’t just stop in at the Joe N’ Throw Co-op in Fairmont for 15 minutes. “You end up staying for three hours—talking, laughing, and enjoying good drinks with some of your favorite people,” says co-owner Bob Layne.
Layne opened the business in downtown Fairmont with Mike Ray in June 2014 after eight months of construction. It’s a combination of Layne’s and Ray’s businesses—Stone Tower Joe and West Fork Pottery—as well as a bar, music venue, and more. It’s a place to hang out that’s unlike any other in town. “We’re committed to making Fairmont a better place,” Layne says. “Joe N’ Throw exists to provide a place for meaningful community gathering, local one-of-a-kind products, and a consistently quality experience.”
Paintings, photography, and other works by local artists decorate the space. You can pull up a seat at the counter, have a pint of West Virginia-made beer or a mug of pour-over coffee, and strike up a conversation with friendly staff and patrons. Joe N’ Throw offers a large selection of espresso drinks and fair trade organic coffee. A Monday through Friday lunch menu offers sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soups as well as cupcakes and other pastries made in-house. Folk, blues, indie rock, and bluegrass musicians perform at Joe N’ Throw two to four times a month. Pottery classes are offered in a studio neighboring the coffee shop through two glass doors.
Layne and Ray first met while working at a local farmers market. Layne was selling fresh-roasted coffee and Mike was selling his clay mug creations. “I loved his work, and we struck up a good conversation,” Layne says. “We thought what we were selling individually worked perfectly together. There’s nothing like good coffee in a nice, hand-crafted mug.”
Around the same time, their soon-to-be landlord, Tom Lane, approached Kate Greene, the executive director of Main Street Fairmont, about investing in a young entrepreneur who may want to open a coffee shop in the space. “Kate sent Tom my way, I got Mike on board, and together with a lot of help from friends and family we restored a dilapidated building and created the Joe N’ Throw,” Layne says.
Joe N’ Throw’s studio hosts small hand-built and wheel-thrown pottery classes for beginners, and Ray also teaches glazing and decorating techniques. “We have many regular students who have really come to enjoy the clay arts,” Ray says. “Our customers are also able to rent studio space at a monthly rate. People enjoy that service. At any given time you can come to the Joe N’ Throw and you’ll see people working on their latest projects.”
Layne and Ray have no plans to slow down. In 2018, the duo opened Stone Tower Brews in Buckhannon. You won’t find pottery wheels or kilns here—but this cafe shares its sister shop’s commitment to great coffee, food, and craft beer. Joe N’ Throw 323½ Adams Street, 304.816.4390, @joe.n.throw; Stone Tower Brews, 5 East Main Street, Buckhannon, 304.306.9586, @stonetowerbrewsbuckhannon.
written by Danielle Conway
photographed by Carla Witt Ford